Home World News With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO is preparing to fight on its borders

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO is preparing to fight on its borders

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO is preparing to fight on its borders

BRUSSELS – The Russian invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s costliest conflict since World War II, has prompted the BORN to an all-out effort to return to the capable and warlike alliance it had been during the Cold War.

This is a transformative change for an alliance characterized by decades of hibernation and doubt.

Two MIG 29 fighter jets participate in NATO military exercises near an airbase in Lask, central Poland, in October.  Photo Radoslaw Jozwiak/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images

Two MIG 29 fighter jets participate in NATO military exercises near an air base in Lask, central Poland, in October. Photo Radoslaw Jozwiak/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Following the alliance’s recent acceptance of Finland, which has long remained neutral also entails another important unintended consequence for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of his war.

NATO is rapidly moving from what the military calls retaliatory deterrence to denial deterrence.

In the past, the theory was that if the Russians invaded, the member states would try to hold on until allied forces, mainly American and based in the country, came to their aid and retaliated against the Russians to seek to reject them. . .

But after Russia’s atrocities in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, from Bucha and Irpin to Mariupol and Kherson, border states like Poland and the Baltic countries they no longer want to risk any period of Russian occupation.

They point out that in the early days of the Ukrainian invasion, Russian troops captured territories larger than some Baltic nations.

prevent it, discourage with denialmeans a revolution in practical terms:

more troops permanently stationed along the Russian border, greater integration of US and Allied war plans, higher military spending, and more detailed requirements for Allies to have specific types of forces and equipment to fight, if necessary, in pre-assigned locations.

Putin has long complained about the NATO encirclement and invasion.

But his invasion of Ukraine has caused the alliance to shed any remaining inhibitions on raising Western troop numbers along the entire NATO border with Russia.

The intention is to make NATO forces not only more robust and capable, but also more visible for Russia, a key element of deterrence.

“The debate is no longer about how much is enough,” for fear of upsetting Moscow, “but how much is enough,” said Camille Grand, until recently NATO’s deputy secretary general for defense investment, and now a member of the European Council for external relations.

Central and Eastern European countries insist that “it is no longer enough to say that we are ready to discourage by promising to recapture, but that we must defend every inch of NATO territory from day one,” Grand said.

“It’s not nice to be under Russian control for a few months until the cavalry arrived.”

NATO has deployed a battalion of multinational troops in eight countries along the eastern border with Russia.

He is detailing how to raise those forces to brigade strength in those frontline states to improve deterrence and be able to repel invading forces early on.

Thousands more forces are also tasked with moving quickly to support in the event of war, with new detailed mobility and logistics plans and stricter readiness requirements.

“NATO is an organization that has taken a vacation from history,” said Ivo H. Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO.

Putin, he said, “reminded us that we need to think about defense and think about it collectively.”

The alliance will place more troops under the direct control of NATO’s top military officer, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher G. Cavoli, who also commands US forces in Europe.

Under the new rubric of “deter and defend,” Cavoli is supplementing US and allied war plans for the first time since the Cold War, a senior NATO official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive issue. .

The Americans are once again at the center of Europe’s defense, he said, deciding precisely with NATO How will the United States defend Europe?

For the first time since the Cold War, the official said, Eastern European countries will know exactly what NATO intends to do to defend them – what each country should be able to do on its own and how other countries will be tasked of help.

And the Western countries of the alliance will know where their forces need to go, with what and how to get there.

NATO is also aligning its long-term demands on Allies with its current operational needs.


If in the past NATO countries were asked to send lightly armed expeditionary forces by helicopter to Afghanistan, for example, now they will be tasked with defending parts of the Territory of the Alliance.

In case of Great BritainFor example, this will mean providing heavier armor to defend NATO’s eastern flank, even if the British government would prefer to continue fielding a lighter, expeditionary army, which requires less money, fewer personnel and less expensive heavy equipment.

Planning in NATO is already intrusive, but it will become more demanding and specific.

Countries answer questionnaires about their capabilities and equipment; NATO planners tell them what is missing or what could be reduced or streamlined.

In one case, he said Robert G Bell, defense adviser to the US mission to NATO until 2017, the Denmark to stop wasting money building submarines.

Canada was told it had to provide refueling aircraft.

Countries may object – for years some nations with frigates have refused to put air defense missiles on them for fear of looking like an escalation – but they must defend their plans to all NATO members.

If all other allies agree that a country’s plan is inadequate, they can vote to force its adaptation in what’s known as a “minus one consensus.”

Such a lawsuit is rare, but it has happened with Canada, Bell said.

Now the demands will be tougher and more stringent for the alliance to have once again war capacity in Europe and make deterrence credible, to ensure that NATO can wage a high-intensity war against a rival, Russia, from day one of the conflict.

The change in NATO began slowly in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea, sparking an insurgency in eastern Donbass.

At their summit in Wales that year, NATO allies agreed on a military spending target of 2% of gross domestic product by 2024.

So far, only eight of 31 countries, including new member Finland, have met that target, but military spending has increased significantly, adding $350 billion since 2014.

At the next NATO summit, in July, a new spending plan will be agreed, in which 2% of GDP will be considered minimum.

Given Russia’s difficulties in Ukraine, if the major countries spend between 2.5% and 3% of GDP in the military for the next decade, that should be enough, said the senior NATO official.

After 2014, NATO also agreed to place four small battalion-sized forces in the Baltic states and Poland.

The idea was to face the invaders and hope to have reinforcements a week or two after an invasion.

Following last year’s Russian invasion, NATO added four more forward battalions, forming eight such forces along its eastern border, which now includes Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.

But the total number of troops in the eight battle groups is just 10,232, according to NATO.


NATO is planning how to increase the force size of the brigades, which means putting 4,000 to 5,000 troops in each country to make NATO’s increased deterrence “a sturdier tripwire,” Bell said.

This will also mean improving NATO’s air defenses – one of the main shortcomings of the declining armies of the last 30 years, when few imagined the rain of Russian missiles on Europe – and carrying out more numerous and elaborate military exercises, visible for Moscow.

Previously, the annual exercises of NATO’s nuclear forces, known as Steadfast Noon, were kept secret.

But last year, after the Russian invasion, the exercise was held outdoors.

It was important, said a NATO official, to demonstrate to Moscow that the alliance was not deterred by nuclear threats.

NATO’s military headquarters, the supreme headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe, is also being strengthened.

The thousands of Allied soldiers who work there are becoming a major strategic and combat command, charged with developing alliance plans to integrate and deploy allied troops – including cyber, space and maritime forces – in various contingencies.

These can range from planning a hybrid war to runaway regional warfare or all-out nuclear armed conflict.

NATO command has to find out how to incorporate finland and probably Sweden, and decide where to commit their forces in collective defense.

For example, should Finland be part of the HQ covering the Baltic or the one covering the Arctic routes and the Far North, or both?

In principle, NATO leaders can call up 13 corps of 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers each if needed.

But NATO’s actual deployable force is nowhere near that number, senior NATO officials acknowledge.

Cavoli and his team must figure out how best to deploy and where to deploy the troops actually available in a crisis, while trying to keep countries improving their preparedness.

One of the less glamorous challenges is simply mobility and logistics: getting troops, tanks and weapons to where they’re needed as quickly as possible and holding them.

There are currently major post-Cold War roadblocks, such as lack of depots, lack of adequate rail cars, lack of emergency rights-of-way to cross borders and use of roads, issues involving decisions by civil authorities .

But supplying Ukraine from peaceful Poland is also proving to be a major logistical headache, said another NATO official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trucks are overflowing with supplies, there is a shortage of rail cars that can carry heavy equipment such as tanks, and permits need to be obtained at all European borders.

Doing it in a shooting war, he said, with rockets flying, bombs falling, the internet crashing and refugees running in the opposite direction, is a whole other challenge.

“NATO hasn’t thought seriously about defending its homeland and now it has to,” said Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

He’s done this for 40 years, and even though the muscles have atrophied, the muscle memory is there, he said.

“The key is that people and governments who have never experienced it learn to do it.”

c.2023 The New York Times Society

Source: Clarin


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