Few days before, the Defense Committee of the British parliament published report, calling Russia a “strategic competitor” and military threat.
Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront
At the summit in Warsaw, which will be held on 8-9 July, NATO announced the completion of the process of strengthening the defense of the Alliance – the largest process since the Cold War. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated this at a press conference on the eve of the summit.
“The meeting in Warsaw will be held at critical time for our security, in terms of threats and challenges from various directions. In this regard, at our previous meeting in Wales we developed a plan for the greatest strengthening of the collective defense of NATO since the Cold War. In Warsaw I will inform that the Alliance has fulfilled its promise. We made the North Atlantic Alliance faster and stronger.”
The Secretary General noted that among upcoming decisions of the meeting will be: the deployment in Poland and the three Baltic countries on four multinational battalions with 1,000 people each (total 4000); initiated the creation of a multinational brigade in Romania; bringing missile defense (PRO) of the basic level of combat readiness; They will also discuss plans to increase the presence of NATO in the Mediterranean, the cooperation of the Alliance with the Gulf States and the continuation of non-combat operations in Afghanistan.
In the beginning are the money
Of course, all of this will require money and Stoltenberg, not without some satisfaction noted that based on recent data, the total military spending of NATO will increase to $ 8 billion this year, up 3 percent over the past year.
“We expect a cost increase of 3 percent in European countries and Canada. This is about 8 billion”, he said. Not surprisingly, the Secretary excluded the US from these statistics – it’s exactly Washington that requires allies in NATO to increase their defense spending and to acquire new military harware, ie to purchase new weapons and equipment whose main producer for NATO is the American military-industrial complex.
Stoltenberg noted that at the meeting in Wales held in September 2014, the leaders adopted a decision to increase military spending of the Alliance in three stages. “First, we reduce cost cuts, and then gradually we increase military budgets, and only then complete the task of reaching a military budget of 2% of GDP”, stated Stoltenberg.
The Secretary General stressed that “there is a long road ahead” “So far we have not yet reached 2% and the picture remains unclear as to when that will happen, countries continue to cut costs. But I am confident that the Heads of State and Governments will do what we agreed to do in Wales, and it is absolutely feasible.”
The battalions are looking for people
The Secretary General also announced that the 28-nations of NATO have eventually found the fourth country to provide troops for the fourth and last international battalion for the Baltics and Poland. That country will be Canada. The first three battalions are already stated to be led by the US, UK and Germany.
“I welcome the application of Canada for leading a battalion in line with Britain, Germany and the US,” said Stoltenberg. NATO officials still do not specify what percentage of the military for each of the four battalions will be provided by the “leader country” and how much of its composition will be from other countries to ensure the multinational character of these battalions.
The Black Sea brigade
On the other side of the eastern flank of NATO – in the Black Sea region, the Alliance plans to increase its military presence in Romania. At this stage there is less information about it, than the four multinational battalions that will protect the Alliance in the North.
Stoltenberg said: “We will accept a decision for a special NATO presence in Romania.” He stressed that the forces of the Alliance “in the southeastern region will be balanced and will develop based on the military unit in Romania, which in perspective will become multinational division.”
“This structure will be under the command of southeastern multinational headquarters. In parallel, we have strengthened the position of the Alliance in the southeastern region through the activation of air and maritime patrol presence in the Black Sea,” said the Secretary General.
About the Missile Defense
At the summit in Poland NATO intends to announce that “bringing out a missile defense system at the base level of combat readiness”. “Our goal is to announce at the meeting in Warsaw that we have achieved operational potential and we are working on this,” said Stoltenberg.
In his words “the missile defense system is important,” as far as the Alliance “monitors the proliferation of ballistic missiles and NATO must be able to defend the territory and population of the countries from potential attacks.”
“These efforts are not directed against Russia but against threats coming from outside the Euro-Atlantic region. Furthermore, it is important to remember that it is a defensive system and not an offensive one” said Stoltenberg.
In his statement on the 12th of May, made from the Romanian military base in Deveselu (180 km from Bucharest), he officially announced the operational readiness of the American missile complex system, the Aegis. The next day in the Polish village Redzikovo, a ceremony was held at the start of construction of a US missile defense that will achieve operational capability in 2018. It will be part of the so-called European missile defense shield and will intercept missiles with medium-range capabilities.
On May 27, at a press conference concluding the negotiations with the Prime Minister of Greece, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures to minimize the threat of the US missile defense shield in Romania. On June 18, during a meeting with the heads of international news agencies, the Russian leader stressed that the US missile defense system in Europe, has the potential to become the offensive system and can be used against Russia.
Dialogue with Russia
These concerns however, are not shared by NATO. The Alliance announced that its efforts to deploy a missile defense have a “balanced, proportionate and exclusively defensive character.” In order to ensure the Russian side of this, the Alliance is working with Moscow to hold a meeting at the Russia-NATO Council (after the meeting in Warsaw).
The Alliance “continues the joint preparation with Russia for the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, which will take place after the meeting in Warsaw,” said Stoltenberg.”As before, we are open to dialogue with Russia. The Russia-NATO Council can play an important role in the plan for dialogue and exchange of information. Therefore, NATO is working with the Russian Federation to carry out this council shortly after the meeting in Warsaw” stated the Secretary General.
NATO wins from Brexit
Of course, the NATO Secretary General did not overlook the topic of Britain leaving the composition of the European Union. Stoltenberg looks at it with optimism. In his view the Brexit by the United Kingdom, which covers about one-quarter of defense spending of European countries – members of the Alliance “will not affect its role in NATO”. “Brexit will change the relationship between Britain and the EU, but will not change its relationship within NATO. Its role remains the same, that of a strong ally” said Stoltenberg.
The Secretary General expressed confidence that the new UK Government will continue the same course of the country in the Alliance.
“Brexit may even strengthen cooperation between the EU and NATO. The EU and NATO are facing new security challenges, but neither the EU nor the North Atlantic Alliance
separately, have the full arsenal of tools to counter such threats like hybrid war. So we must work together” stated Stoltenberg.