VILNIUS, Lithuania — The three Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — are asking NATO to permanently deploy ground troops to their nations as a deterrent against an increasingly assertive Russia.
The countries’ defense chiefs requested a battalion of 700 to 800 troops in each country in a joint letter this week to the supreme allied commander in Europe, said Captain Mindaugas Neimontas, a spokesman for Lithuania’s chief of defense.
‘‘It is necessary because of the security situation,’’ Neimontas said. ‘‘It’s not getting better in our region, so it will be a deterrent.’’
The Baltic countries, former Soviet republics that regained independence amid the collapse of the Soviet Union, have been alarmed by Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and the increasing activity of Russian forces in the Baltic Sea. NATO forces, including troops from the United States, have also stepped up military exercises in Eastern European nations in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the request would be ‘‘assessed carefully’’ but gave no commitment beyond that.