NATO is considering establishing a new rotational ground force in the Baltic States and Poland to deter possible Russian aggression, according to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Ash Carter
© AFP/Scanpix

"That is one of the ideas that's under discussion," said Carter, who is in Stuttgart Germany to install a new commander of the US European Command.

The US Defence Secretary said the alliance is considering creating a rotational ground force of four battalions, containing about 4,000 troops but that would be in addition to a recently announced US decision to send a US armoured brigade of about 4,200 troops to Eastern Europe next February.

He said the idea of a separate NATO rotational ground force is likely to be further discussed at a NATO meeting in June.

He also said that Russia was leaving NATO with no choice but to take such a move because it had moved away from a path of cooperation with the West:

"Therefore, we have no alternative but to do what we're doing, which is stand strong," he said.

However, Carter said the US was willing to "hold the door open if Russian behaviour should change" and to work with Russia in areas where the two countries still have mutual interests, such as with the Iran nuclear deal.

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