In Brussels ended the first day of the two-day meeting of defense Ministers of the countries participating in NATO. The Ministers used the opportunity to discuss a series of measures to strengthen the position of NATO in Eastern Europe and in the Mediterranean ahead of a summit of the bloc at the level of heads of States, held on 8-9 July.
Battalions with the rotation of the
The Ministers agreed to send to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland four multinational battalions on high alert and to take several other measures to strengthen collective security, primarily in Eastern Europe, near Russian borders, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the press conference following the meeting in Brussels.
Battalions can be deployed at the beginning of 2017, said said a senior official of the Alliance. One NATO country will represent the main part of the battalion, but these forces will be reinforced by soldiers of other countries. Which countries will introduce the basic compositions are not yet known. Each battalion consists of 800-1000 soldiers, will change according to the rotation principle, every six to nine months. Formally, such a system does not violate the agreement between NATO and Russia, in which which the Alliance is forbidden to increase the permanent presence of its troops near the Russian border.
How will last this gain, Stoltenberg said. “The challenges before us lined up on the long term. We must be prepared to confront those threats for a long time,” said Stoltenberg at a press conference.
A Signal To Russia
The transfer of the battalions, according to Stoltenberg, is just one of many measures aimed at the prevention of threats to international security and national security of the member countries of NATO, including “from Russia”. “This decision sends a clear signal: if one member of Alliance attacked, the entire Alliance responsible for it,” – said Stoltenberg. “NATO will continue to protect and provide for the defense of all Alliance members from threats from any direction. That is why we provide the most powerful strengthening of our forces since the cold war,” he said, answering the question of what NATO wants to send to Russia.
Members of the Alliance have taken measures for more rapid deployment of troops on the continent. NATO, according to Stoltenberg, will continue work on the freedom of movement of troops in Europe, since in times of crises, the speed will play a crucial role. About the role of speed in the crisis period shortly before the meeting of Ministers, said sources of the newspaper Financial Times NATO. They argued that in case of war with Russia in Eastern Europe in connection with the increase of Russian forces in the Kaliningrad region, NATO will not have time to throw “Sharp copies” in Poland and the Baltic States in a timely manner. “Last fall we looked at a map of Europe and saw how difficult it is to transfer troops from one country to another in a short time. We used the analogy of a traffic light: most of the cards were red. Since then, we’ve worked hard and made significant progress — to date, nearly all green,” — said Stoltenberg.
NATO will also take steps to increase its military presence in the Black sea region. According to the Secretary General, the Alliance has already strengthened the patrolling of the airspace and increased the number of training. Now NATO is planning to create in Romania staff structure for the deployment of the multinational brigade of the Alliance.
The offer of cooperation
NATO ceased practical cooperation with Russia after events in Crimea and Ukraine in 2014, including cooperation on combating terrorism, which was conducted in 2004, on combating piracy (since 2008), territorial missile defence (since 2003). There were only open diplomatic channels.
The question of the resumption of practical cooperation between Russia and NATO, including in the sphere of combating terrorism, remains open. As explained by a senior official of the Alliance, it will be possible to say if Russia will return to compliance with international obligations and treaties”. Earlier, Russian Deputy foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said that the continued refusal of NATO to cooperate with Russia in fighting terrorism would have a negative impact on the security of all countries of the Euro-Atlantic area.
Stoltenberg and his colleagues at NATO have repeatedly emphasized that their policy of “deterrence and defence” provides for a political dialogue. “We are not seeking confrontation with Russia and aimed at a more constructive and cooperative relationship,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference following the meeting. He also intends to offer Russia to spend the second year of a meeting of the Russia-NATO summit in Warsaw. According to him, the meeting has not yet been agreed, and its exact date is not assigned.
In previous meetings Russia-NATO, which took place in April, the two sides discussed the situation in Ukraine, security issues and reduce the risks of incidents and developments in Afghanistan. Following the meeting, NATO and Russia stated about the possibility of a political dialogue, but stressed that the return to the previous level of relations will not happen and that a positive agenda yet.
To increase military budgets
NATO countries for the first time in almost 10 years increased their military budgets in 2015 growth was 0.6% in 2016, according to estimates Stoltenberg, the cost will increase by 1.6% or €3 billion as spent collectively by all 28 countries, not yet reported, but only for European participants spent in 2015 to $253 billion, and this year Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and increased the corresponding expenses by 60, 35 and 9%, respectively. In the long run NATO expects each member state of the Alliance spending on defense at least 2% of GDP. In 2014, NATO increased the number of its response force three times, to 40 thousand soldiers, organized a quick reaction force (“task force very high readiness”, known as “Sharp spear”) — about 5 thousand military that can transfer to your destination in a few days, and created eight new small headquarters in the Eastern part of Europe to coordinate planning, exercises, and strengthen (the defense), reminded the NATO Secretary General.