Slovak government approves deployment of NATO troops

The move is a part of a broader initiative to bolster NATO’s defence capability on the eastern flank.  [EPA PHOTO/ FEHIM DEMIRR EPA/FEHIM DEMIR]

More than 2,000 NATO soldiers will strengthen the defence of Slovakia, the government agreed on Wednesday, though confirmation from parliament is still needed.

The move is a part of a broader initiative to bolster NATO’s defence capability on the eastern flank.

The enhanced forward presence (EFP) battalion should consist of 600 soldiers from the Czech Republic, 200 Dutch, 100 Poles, 400 Americans and 700 Germans. EFP forces were founded after the Russian annexation of Crimea and are already present in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the transatlantic alliance agreed to establish multinational EFP battlegroups along the entire eastern wing of NATO, including Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated NATO’s support for eastern member states on his Tuesday visit to Latvia, visiting the Canadian-led battlegroup. Stoltenberg ensured that NATO would defend “every inch of its members’ territory”.

For a long time, Slovaks were not in favour of stationing NATO soldiers in their country and support for Slovak membership was low. However, the mood has changed following Russia’s war on Ukraine.

According to the latest survey, 61% of the population thinks NATO membership is a good thing, while 45% believed this before the invasion. Slovakia is historically mostly anti-American and pro-Russian.

“I believe that the current reality Russia has created by its aggression towards a sovereign state be a sufficient reason to change the traditional Slovak confusion in public perception of foreign affairs,” Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) has said.

“I sincerely hope that the proposal to strengthen the security of our territory by Allied forces will receive clear support throughout the parliament,” he added.

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