NATO is rushing to battle stations as its leaders haggle at a summit in Madrid today over a newly-announced force of 300,000 troops – while just tens of thousands guard’s Europe’s eastern flanks from any new Russian aggression.

The alliance has been jolted into action by the furious awakening of the Russian ‘sleeping bear’ with the invasion of Ukraine, sparking fears that ex-Soviet nations Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia could be next on Putin’s hit-list.

It has agreed it wants to have a force of 300,000 troops that can be mobilised to take on Russia within 30 days, but the details of which nations’ troops will make up that number are still to be agreed. 

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Until negotiations between typically war-shy European nations on the new army are resolved – predicted to be some time next year – it will be the job of some 30,000 troops, the vast majority of them American, to defend an eastern frontier that runs from the Baltic to Black Sea. Which begs the question: Could they win?