In a swift reaction to Russia’s acceptance of Crimea into its fold the United States announced plans to deploy American troops to the former Soviet Baltic states and slap further sanctions on Moscow.
On a visit to Poland on Tuesday U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Washington was considering “rotating” American forces to the Baltic region to protect NATO allies against Russian aggression.
Mr. Biden said those forces could conduct ground and naval exercises, plus engage in training missions.
The three Baltic states, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are members of NATO, but have no NATO troops on the ground, except for a few fighter jets patrolling their airspace. Last week NATO deployed additional F-16 fighters to Poland and Lithuania.
The U.S. Vice President is travelling to Lithuania on Wednesday to reassure the leaders of the Baltic states of the U.S. commitment to ensure their security.
Mr. Biden warned that the U.S. and Europe will impose further sanctions to punish Russia for its “land grab” in Ukraine.
The U.S. and its allies will gather next week in Europe to consider a further response to Russia’s absorption of Ukraine’s Crimea region, the White House said on Tuesday.
The U.S., Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Japan and Italy, as well as the European Union will meet on the margins of a nuclear security summit at The Hague that U.S. President Barack Obama plans to attend.
The U.S. and the E.U. on Monday penalised a number of Ukrainian and Russian officials blamed for escalating the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia scoffed at the Western sanctions. The State Duma (lower house) in a statement on Tuesday challenged the U.S. and “eurobureaucrats” to blacklist all lawmakers who supported Crimea’s accession to Russia.
Vladislav Surkov, a close aide to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, said he was proud of making the U.S. blacklist.
“I consider this a kind of political Oscar from America for best male supporting role,” the Interfax news agency quoted Mr. Surkov as saying on Tuesday.