NATO Defense Ministers Meet on NATO Buildup Against Russia
Oct. 26, 2016 (EIRNS)—NATO’s defense ministers are meeting in Brussels today, completing plans to forward-base 4,000 NATO troops in Poland and the three Baltic states. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in his preview press conference of yesterday, made it out as though NATO were doing this because Russia has moved up to NATO’s borders, as if NATO was always where it is now and Russia the expanding power—an obviously very selective reading of history.
"We have seen a significant military buildup in Russia over many years and defense spending has tripled since the year 2000 in real terms," he said.
"And this has enabled Russia to invest in new capabilities, in new weapon systems, to do more exercises and to significantly increase their military capability. Combined with the fact that Russia has also been willing to not only invest in their Armed Forces but also to use their Armed Forces against neighbours as we have seen in Crimea, Ukraine—this is the reason why NATO is responding and this is part of a pattern which has triggered a response from NATO."
NATO has been pounding its members to increase defense spending over the past few years, and now that this is finally happening,
"this shows that NATO is able to respond, NATO is able to adapt to a more assertive Russia and the increased military presence of Russia close to our borders," Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg said that Russia’s recent deployment of Iskander missIles to Kaliningrad "is yet another example of a Russian military buildup close to NATO borders," particularly since they’re dually capable. So,
"of course we are concerned about the Russian military buildup close to NATO borders, and we see it in the East, but we also see it in the South in the Eastern Mediterranean and in Syria close to Turkey, NATO ally."
The four battalions are to be led by the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada, but other members, especially France and Italy, are expected to provide troops to fill out those battalions, which will be backed by NATO’s rapid reaction force of 40,000 troops. Yesterday, U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the UK will be sending 800 troops to Estonia, equipped with Challenger 2 main battle tanks, Warrior combat vehicles, and drones.
"This is not simply a trip-wire. This is a serious military presence," he asserted. Not directly in the Baltics, but as part of NATO’s buildup, the Norwegian parliament, yesterday, approved the deployment of 300 U.S. Marines to a base near Trondheim, about 400 kilometers north of Oslo, where the US has had hundreds of military vehicles prepositioned in air-conditioned caves for several years.
While the Baltic strategy is thus moving forward, Reuters notes that NATO has struggled to develop a similar strategy for the Black Sea, which the Russians pretty much control from Crimea. Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey are expected to soon come forward with a plan to increase naval and air patrols in the area, as well as a multinational NATO brigade in Romania, says Reuters.