Soldiers take positions with their army vehicles during the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland.
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Backed by an increase in U.S. military spending, NATO is planning its biggest buildup in Eastern Europe since the Cold War to deter Russia but will reject Polish demands for permanent bases. Worried since Russia's seizure of Crimea that Moscow could rapidly invade Poland or the Baltic states, the Western military alliance wants to bolster defenses on its eastern flank without provoking the Kremlin by stationing large forces permanently.NATO defense ministers will next week begin outlining plans for a complex web of small eastern outposts, forces on rotation, regular war games and warehoused equipment ready for a rapid response force. While avoiding a return to the Cold War when 300,000 U.S. service personnel were stationed in Europe, NATO generals describe it as a "persistent" but not a "permanent" presence, and want to adhere to a 1997 agreement with Moscow not to station substantial combat forces on the NATO-Russia border.Issues such as how NATO nuclear weapons in Western Europe could play into any potential conflict are extremely sensitive.Poland will, however, be expected to host NATO allies at its bases temporarily and share some costs.
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