Ukraine: NATO will launch the largest military reinforcement in Eastern Europe against the Russian threat | International
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NATO is not at war, but it is rapidly preparing for it. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the military Alliance has multiplied its resources in the member countries that border the aggressor or are very close. And it’s not going to stop. “We are going to raise our forces in the east from battalion to brigade level,” announced the organization’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, at the press conference prior to the Madrid Summit, which is being held between Tuesday and Thursday. That jump supposes to open the door to duplicate the deployments. The current combat groups are made up of between 1,000 and 1,600 soldiers. A brigade can account for at least twice that figure. The Norwegian has also added that the heads of state and government will agree to increase NATO’s rapid response force to “more than 300,000” soldiers in the event of conflicts, that is, its current figure will be multiplied by more than eight.
“The goal is to send the message that we are ready to protect and defend every inch of allied territory,” warned the Norwegian in summary. The renewed secretary general of the largest military alliance in the world has composed in his own way the famous Latin phrase If you see pacem, for bellum (If you want peace prepare for war).
There is little more palpable evidence of what the invasion of Ukraine has meant in the geostrategic field – and its prelude to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 – than the Strategic Concept that NATO approved 12 years ago. In that document, which includes the alliance’s strategy for the next decade, Russia appeared as a “partner” of the Alliance. In the one that is going to be approved in Madrid, the aggressive neighbor of the eastern end of Europe will be defined as “the most significant and direct threat to security”, according to Stoltenberg.
The drawing that will come out of this document aims to respond to the new world order that is being configured, again around two poles: the Western one and the one made up by China with the help of Moscow, both autocratic regimes. This leads to the first time that the great Asian giant appears mentioned in a Strategic Concept (there have been since 1949). “It represents challenges for our security, interests and values”, the secretary general pointed out, in a sentence that contains the three elements around which this new bipolar world is agglutinated: security/defense, interests/economy and values. (democracy/autocracies).
But NATO is clear that “the most significant and direct threat” is now on its eastern flank and comes from Russia. To confront it, the organization, under strong American leadership, is willing to take steps unthinkable last January, just weeks before Putin’s war in Ukraine began. Now the organization has deployed in the Eastern countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria) most of the 40,000 troops it has under its command, about 25,000 soldiers, according to its own figures. And Stoltenberg has announced that this deployment will go further by announcing that step from battalions to brigades.
“The increase in presence from battalions to brigades will be done in some countries. This is not for everyone. There are different needs for each country”, the Secretary General clarified. Since the cannons began to sound in Ukraine, NATO has already doubled its operational units on the ground in eastern countries by going from four battalions to eight. This reinforcement has been very noticeable in countries like Lithuania, where in February there were 1,100 Alliance soldiers and now there are 4,000; in Estonia, which has gone from 1,150 to 2,000; and, above all, in Poland, with a jump from 1,058 to about 10,500.
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Most of Stoltenberg’s appearance has been aimed at putting on the table the effort that NATO is willing to make to protect itself from the former partner turned enemy. And that effort involves putting more money on the table. Because the war and its preparations, even to drive it away, require many millions of dollars and euros. Here he has warned that the commitment remains the one reached in 2014 at the Wales Summit: raising the spending of the 30 allied states to 2% of GDP: “It is a floor, not a ceiling.” That is, it is the minimum expense required in the organization.
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