Which countries near Russia do US forces have bases?
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has established military bases in many former Soviet republics. Which ones and how many border Russia?
The United States military has bases in over 900 confirmed bases in over seventy countries. The country with the highest number of US bases, 120, is Japan, followed by Germany with 119.
After World War II, the US began to establish military bases in these countries to ensure peace during the reconstruction era. In the years following, both countries became ego-strategically advantageous to the US during the Cold War, which is explains why the number of bases is so high.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has also increased its military presence in Eastern Europe, especially as many of the former republics that made up the USSR became NATO members.
Bulgaria, which became a NATO member in 2004 has four co-operated military bases with the US. For the US these bases, particularly the Bezmer Air Base in the Yambol Province are strategic because of the their proximity to the Middle East.
How many US troops are stationed in Bulgaria?
All in all, around 2,500 US military personal are scattered across the four bases which include an additional air base, a logistics center, and a military training center.
While Bulgaria does not border Russia or Ukraine, it does lie on the Black Sea, and thus is a serves as a critical military ally of NATO. Tensions on the Black Sea have rapidly increased since the invasion.
On 19 March, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov announced that the US had agreed to send a "contingent" of troops would be sent to the country. The news came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Sofia to discuss the ongoing conflict with Bulgarian leaders.
Estonia, which also joined NATO in 2004, became one of the first members to share a border with Russia.
Through collaboration with NATO, the US supports the existence of the Ämari Air Base in Harjumaa, Estonia. The base is staffed by military professionals from various NATO countries.
In early February as Russian troops moved closer to Ukraine, Estonian Prime Minster Kaja Kallas to send forces to the country. Troops have been sent, but exact numbers are not currently available. However, as a whole NATO has sent 2,000 troops to the county.
In 1999, Poland became a NATO member and during this conflict has been reassured that should an attack on Polish soil take place, Article 5 of the treaty would go into effect. NATO is a collective defense agreement, meaning that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. Article 5 of the treaty details this component and has never been activated.
While Poland does not border Russia directly, but it does border Belarus which has been Russia's largest ally during the invasion. Before the invasion the US sent 3,000 troops to Poland, and since Russia launched its attack hundreds more have been moved to the country. The White House is keenly aware of the threat Poland faces from Belarus, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying, "Poland has to contend not just with the war in Ukraine but with Russia’s military deployments to Belarus, which have fundamentally changed the security equation there."
During President Biden's trip to Europe this week, he will make a stop in Poland to meet with President Andrzej Duda. Poland is the only country, aside from Belgium, that the president will visit.
Jake Sullivan said that a visit to Poland is critical because the country "has taken the brunt of the humanitarian impact outside of Ukraine in terms of the refugee flows."
"Poland is where the United States has surged a significant number of forces to be able to help defend and shore up the eastern flank," added Sullivan.