Several neighbors of Russia asked U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for a greater U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe during his visit there this week.
Durbin visited Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. While all are concerned about what Russian President Vladimir Putin may do next in Ukraine, despite a ceasefire agreement, Lithuania and Poland went as far as to ask Durbin if the U.S. would consider building permanent military bases in their countries.
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“They take the situation with Putin very seriously,” Durbin said. “They believe we need to be prepared to strike back if he shows further aggression, and they believe the United States must be a leader in that effort. Many of them will then follow.” Durbin says military bases are unlikely considering the cost, but he is in favor of sending more military aid, particularly to Ukraine, in the form of weapons and training.
One of the concerns Durbin says was expressed to him was the U.S. isn’t taking Putin seriously enough. Durbin disagrees, but says there are concerns about whether any American actions towards Russia would have support in the European Union and how Putin himself would respond.