MOSCOW, May 12 (RIA Novosti) – The Czech Republic does not support the permanent stationing of NATO troops in the country in connection with the situation in Ukraine, Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky said in an interview with the Reuters news agency.
According to Stropnicky, Czechs vividly remember the Soviet invasion of the country in 1968 and therefore are opposed to the presence of any foreign troops on the territory of the country. "We know well how any permanent stationing [of troops] is still a problem,” Stropnicky said, noting that he still supports the expansion of cooperation on training and other activities of the alliance.
Previously commander of NATO forces in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove said that in the light of the aggravation of the situation in Ukraine, NATO member countries may consider permanently stationing troops in Eastern Europe. Currently, NATO troops are present in the region only for short-term rotations.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said earlier the alliance will boost air patrols over Eastern Europe and dispatch extra ships to the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas due to the crisis in Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that NATO was attempting to use the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext to unite the alliance’s members and to push for Moscow’s isolation. At the same time, Rasmussen stressed that NATO has not yet made a decision on the placement of permanent bases in Eastern Europe.
NATO earlier accused Russia of deploying approximately 35,000-40,000 troops in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border in preparation for a military intervention in Ukraine, despite Russia’s continued claims there was nothing unusual about its military drills.