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NATO Security Agreements with Russia Must Change to Meet the Changed Security Environment in Europe

The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations that forbids permanent NATO bases in Eastern and Central Europe must change to meet the new security environment on the continent which fears increasing agitations and tensions from Russia. 

And to this end, Estonian President Toomas Ilves, has fittingly called for a permanent NATO force to be stationed in his country, to deter Russian threats. President Ilves of the country of 1.3 million people, has confirmed that his small nation felt threatened by Russian flights and exercises in the region as well as by the belligerent rhetoric from Moscow.

Estonia's fears have already been echoed by many Nordic and Baltic states, which have undertaken various forms of national preparation, training and general readiness, to defend their sovereignty from Russian aggression. Last week, Nordic states- Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, issued a declaration to increase their defense ties, and to increase their solidarity with Baltic states, to deter Russian agitation as they deemed Russia, a major security threat to Europe. Similarly, to deter Russian aggression, Germany also announced last week that it would return to military service 100 mothballed battle tanks. And from Poland, to Latvia, to Lithuania and beyond, nations have among other measures, resorted to the training of their citizenry, to assist in the defense of their states from any Russian action.

In a recent interview with the British Newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, and reported by the BBC-News, Estonia's President observed that it was time for NATO to recognize the security environment of Europe had changed since 1997. Hence, a brigade of NATO forces, at the very least, should be stationed in Estonia. 

Estonia has a standing army of just 5,300 and it relies heavily upon NATO to monitor its airspace which abuts Russia's. At present, NATO's contingent in Estonia numbers a mere 150 temporarily stationed United States(US) infantrymen. President Ilves noted: "One hundred and fifty soldiers is not a lot, so we do think that further stationing of troops at a higher number is only reasonable," the BBC reported.

Furthermore, President Ilves justified his hopes for more NATO troops in Estonia based upon evidence that: "We get exercises(by Russia) that take place behind our borders that have 40,000 to 80,000 soldiers. Yet, we are accused of escalating...and Russia says that it will have to take counter measures."

NATO's creation of a 5,000-troop Rapid Response Force to deploy with 48-hours to counter any Russian attack upon a member, is not sufficient protection, the Estonian head of state said. Of the new NATO force, President Ilves confirmed: "It is a great idea, but it probably is in terms of the realities, just too late." He referenced that the Estonian capital, Tallinn, sits just 135 miles from the Russia border, and he feared Russian troops could be at the capital in a mere four-hours after violating the Estonian border, thus rendering a 48-hour NATO deployment too late to answer a probable assault upon Estonia. 

Therefore, to enhance the security of Europe, and to deter Russian aggression against peaceful Europe, it becomes fitting that NATO re-examines agreements with Russia that were made at a time when Russia appeared to act in accordance with International law. 

However, Russian actions in Crimea, in Ukraine along with its agitations to Europe coupled with its inciting rhetoric, clearly indicate that Vladimir Putin has ran afoul of international law and signed agreements. Thus, each free European nation must be accorded the appropriate protection and the defense desired from Russian meddling.