NATO defense ministers have agreed to task military commanders to come up with measures to bolster the alliance in Europe at an emergency meeting due to the “new reality” ushered in by the Russia-Ukraine war.
“We need to reset our military posture for this new reality,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference after the emergency meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.
Stoltenberg said that defense ministers had agreed to task military commanders to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia. Those plans include deploying more troops and “more pre-positioned equipment and supplies” on land, strengthening “integrated air and missile defense systems,” and deploying “sea carrier strike groups, submarines, and significant numbers of combat ships on a permanent basis.”
Stoltenberg said that to ensure NATO’s security, allies must invest at least 2% of their GDP on defense. According to NATO data, only 10 of the alliance’s member states spent that amount on defense expenditures last year.
He praised Germany and Denmark, which have announced more investment and faster timetables.
The defense ministers also emphasized the importance of continuing to arm and fund Ukraine in its battle to hold back Russian forces and give impetus to the ongoing negotiations for a peaceful solution, Stoltenberg said.
“We remain united in our support of Ukraine,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the NATO defense ministers meeting. “We support their ability to defend themselves and will continue to support them.”
NATO countries will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine even as those deliveries could become the target of Russian attacks, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren told reporters, adding, “Ukraine has the right to defend itself.”
“President Putin has underestimated Ukraine, the people of Ukraine and the armed forces of Ukraine and the political leadership of Ukraine. But President Putin has also underestimated NATO, because we reacted swiftly and unified in a way that has imposed severe costs on Russia,” Stoltenberg said.
At the same time, he warned that, “We should not underestimate Russia’s capabilities when it comes to continue the war and also to continue to attacks on cities.”
The details of a plan for an expanded NATO footprint in Europe will be firmed up at a NATO summit of heads of state and government at a summit in Madrid in June and will also be discussed briefly next Thursday by leaders when they meet in Brussels at allied headquarters in a bid to show unity, Stoltenberg said.
Diplomats participating in the meeting said NATO wanted to avoid directly stating its plans, or what would trigger its “Article 5” collective defense pledge, saying “strategic ambiguity” was also a defensive instrument against any Russian aggression.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and the military alliance therefore has no formal obligation to intervene to stop the war. But Ukraine is bordered by four NATO members: Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. Further north, Russia borders the three Baltic states, each of which are NATO members: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Source: Agencies (edited by Al-Manar English Website)