NATO appears to be ready to approve, as early as next week, the biggest reform of its defenses since the Cold War, including a major expansion of a force of 40,000 troops on alert to respond to a possible crisis. This debate arises so that there is a prior preparation in case Russia decides to attack any of the member states of the Alliance.
“Overnight the mindset changed,” said a military officer from the NATO quoted by Sky News. “NATO now seems electrified. You can feel the energy spreading through all the leaders,” she added.
In this way, long-standing defense plans that had not received much attention before 24 February – the day that Moscow launched its military invasion of Kiev – are back on the table and ready to become a reality, as the leaders of all member states gather for the NATO summit that will take place from the 28th to the 30th of June in Madrid, Spain.
Another diplomat quoted by the same media outlet predicted that the Madrid summit will provide “a radical change in attitude”.
Among the points to be discussed regarding the defense of the Atlantic Alliance are: an expansion of the NATO Response Force by around 40,000 soldiers; greater preparedness in case Russia decides to attack NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks, deploying thousands of troops to these borders; the designation of Russia as “the most direct and significant threat to security”; and a new comprehensive assistance package to be sent to Ukraine, including equipment to combat Russian drones and provide more stable and secure communication domestically.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, said, quoted by Reuters, that the meeting of heads of state and government in the Spanish capital will be a “transforming summit, as we are at a crucial moment for our security”. Evidence of the horror unleashed by Russian forces in places like the Ukrainian city of Bucha was one of the main reasons that led to the determination of all member states to strengthen their defenses.
The allies thus seem to be ready to move from relying solely on sanctions applied to Russia – which, until then, have been efficient but have not made Putin stop his military aggression – to what some call “deterrence by force”. denial”.
Kusti Salm, secretary of the Estonian Defense Ministry, quoted by Sky News, explained that this scenario would work with larger numbers of troops already on the ground to stop any invasion before it started. “If we are able to deploy adequate and sufficient forces, we will indicate to our adversary that our troops are at a level that would make him immediately lose any attempt to attack.”
“This message could then converge to a loss for Russia to invade NATO territory. Putin will be able to read in it that even if he tried, his troops would be wiped off Earth in the early hours.”
This new thinking requires NATO allies to have even more combat-capable soldiers, sailors, marines and aircrew ready to move in varying degrees of readiness. In addition, each member state, with the exception of Iceland as it has no army, is looking to put more forces on standby.
Also part of NATO’s new plan is to further strengthen its defenses in eight countries along its eastern and southeastern borders.
Stoltenberg revealed last Tuesday that the allies are debating strengthening “battle groups in the east to brigade level”. This is because a battle group has around 1000 soldiers, while a brigade can have between 3000 and 5000 soldiers.
Some of the Allies, including the UK, the US, Canada and Germany are already contributing by contributing to the deployment of forces to these regions. The UK, which leads the NATO mission in Estonia, has increased its presence in the country to two battle groups this year and Ben Wallace, the defense minister, said it was “highly likely” to add more troops to form brigades. In turn, Germany, which leads the battle group in Lithuania, also intends to expand its forces there.