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Bolstering NATO is the prudent move

This appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Russia has created a crisis by deploying more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern, northern and southern borders. 

Talks to defuse the tension have included multiple Russian demands, including that NATO forces retreat to mid-1990s status before eastern expansion of the alliance. Not only is that a nonstarter with allied leaders, but the opposite should happen, with several countries considering bolstering forces in Poland, the Baltics and elsewhere.

Among these nations is the United States, which on Monday put 8,500 troops on alert that they may soon be quickly deployed to Eastern Europe, with some of them perhaps part of a special, 40,000-multinational-member unit called the NATO Response Force. Other members also are taking action, including sending naval vessels and aircraft.

President Joe Biden already has stated that no American forces would be sent to Ukraine, which is not a member of the alliance. So no U.S. troops would directly fight any Russian troops if they invade Ukraine and attempt to build on Russia's 2014 illegal cleaving of Crimea and backing of a separatist movement in eastern portions of the country.

Instead, this would be a defensive deployment, meant to shore up nations that could be the next target of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. and NATO not only have every right, but the responsibility, to prepare for further Russian aggression. Indeed, doing so lowers the likelihood of such an escalation.

The Kremlin absurdly blames the West for the tensions. But it's protective — not provocative — to prepare, and such prudent measures should actually reduce the risk of U.S. troops ever engaging with Russian ones.

"American strength leads to American peace," said John E. Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, reflecting a sentiment that should guide the Biden administration's measured response to this Russian-made crisis.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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