What do the decisions of the NATO summit mean for Russia?
NATO leaders agreed to increase the rapid reaction force in Europe by almost eight times, and also officially invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance. What does this mean for Russia and what could be the answer? ” alt=”What do the NATO summit decisions mean for Russia” />
How NATO will be strengthened
On Wednesday, June 29, the leaders of the NATO countries at the summit in Madrid agreed to increase the size of the alliance's rapid reaction force by almost eight times— up to 300 thousand people. Now it is 40 thousand fighters, who should be ready to start combat missions within 15 days. Until 2014, it was planned that the scale of such forces would not exceed a division and amount to about 13 thousand military personnel.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the increase will take place in 2023. He explained that the countries of the alliance will prepare and finance these forces for the defense of certain territories in the east. NATO forces will be deployed in different countries to defend specific areas of the territory of the alliance members. The bloc plans to place heavy equipment and weapons on the border with Russia.
On the same day, US President Joe Biden said that the US military presence in Europe would be strengthened, the deployment of US troops would change to meet modern realities. In particular, Washington intends to increase the number of rotational units in the Baltic countries and deploy an additional brigade of more than 3,000 soldiers and officers on a rotational basis in Romania. The headquarters of the 5th US Army Corps will be located in Poland, and two squadrons of fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons will be sent to the UK. The number of American destroyers based in Spanish Rota will be increased from four to six. These ships are equipped with Aegis (Aegis) systems and are part of the US-deployed global missile defense system. In addition, the United States is going to deploy additional air defense assets in Germany and Italy.
After the collapse of the USSR, a significant part of NATO forces was reduced to non-combat-ready units, that is, forces that are not capable of immediately engaging in battle, said Ilya Kramnik, a researcher at the Center for North American Studies at the IMEMO RAS, an expert of the Russian Council on International Affairs, in a conversation with RBC. The available NATO Rapid Response Force is, however, very limited. As for their increase to 300,000 people, most likely, it is not about the number of combat-ready units, but about creating opportunities for the rapid deployment of new units, Kramnik suggested. That is, additional military bases with a set of weapons will be equipped, where you can quickly transfer personnel already trained to work on this equipment. “For example, a base with a set of equipment for a brigade is being deployed. Through this base, a certain number of military personnel are annually trained on this equipment. Accordingly, everyone who has passed this training can be gathered and put on alert within a few days, — the expert explained.
Such bases will appear, most likely and first of all, in the countries of Eastern Europe from Poland to Romania, Kramnik believes. “At the same time, many NATO countries have already increased military spending and, apparently, will increase the size of their armies. In particular, previously reduced divisions will be recreated in Germany, — noted the expert. According to him, the heavy weapons that the countries of the alliance can deploy,— these are main battle tanks, artillery installations with a caliber of more than 100 mm, multiple launch rocket systems, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, etc. “That is, what was limited under the CFE [Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, in which Russia suspended participation in 2015],” — summed up the expert.
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How NATO plans to expand
NATO leaders also officially invited Finland and Sweden to the alliance (claims against Turkey were withdrawn on June 28) and called Russia the most significant threat to the security of the alliance countries and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. Russian President Vladimir Putin has failed to close NATO's doors, Stoltenberg said Wednesday: “He's getting the opposite of what he wanted. President Putin will deal with the broader NATO alliance after the entry of Sweden and Finland into the alliance.
In mid-April, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Telegram that an increase in the number of NATO members from 30 to 32 would lead to the fact that “Russia will have more officially registered adversaries.” “If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the land borders of the alliance with the Russian Federation will more than double. Naturally, these boundaries will have to be strengthened. Seriously strengthen the grouping of ground forces and air defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland, — summed up the ex-president, concluding that “we can no longer talk about any non-nuclear status of the Baltic states”; balance must be restored.
- The decisions of the Madrid NATO summit were recorded in a declaration. It states that the heads of state of the alliance met in Madrid at a time when “the war returned to the European continent”, so the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the unity and basic principles of the alliance, in particular, “the commitment to the Washington Treaty, including Article 5, remains ironclad.” (this article says that an attack on one of the members of the alliance is an attack on all).
- Russia is mentioned 13 times in the declaration (China – once), in particular, it is indicated that the Russian Federation is “the most significant and direct threat to security, peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.” This is also fixed in the NATO strategy approved at the summit. NATO allies strongly condemned Moscow's actions in Ukraine, calling them a violation of international law, and called on Moscow to immediately cease hostilities and withdraw troops from Ukraine, they called on Belarus to stop supporting Russia.
- Ukraine was promised by 30 NATO countries political and practical support, in particular the acceleration and increase in the supply of non-lethal weapons.
- In addition to strengthening the rapid reaction units, NATO leaders decided that each country would approve its own military development plans, which would strengthen the overall capability of the alliance. To develop the technologies used by the alliance, a special accelerator and innovation fund will be created that will unite the efforts of governments, the private sector and scientists.
- Special measures of political and practical support for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova will also be developed.
How Russia will respond
The deployment of additional NATO forces in Eastern Europe will lead to compensatory measures on the part of Russia, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov commented on the decision of the alliance. Moscow has the possibilities and resources to ensure its own security 100%. “We will not remain in debt, as they say,” — Ryabkov noted. Those who propose solutions to strengthen the military presence of the North Atlantic Alliance in Eastern Europe “are under the illusion that Russia will be able to be intimidated, somehow restrained,” & mdash; says Ryabkov. “That's what they can't do,” — he concluded.
“In principle, Russia has something to answer, but the growth of the military budget— this is a rather heavy burden on the economy, and there are many questions about how adequately it is possible to economically provide this increase in forces, — warns Kramnik.
- On June 29, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on the states & mdash; NATO members to increase military spending in light of the events in Ukraine. “We need all allies to dig deeper [into their reserves] in order to increase deterrence and secure defense in the coming decade. [Defense spending in the form of] 2% [of GDP] has always been considered a minimum amount, not a ceiling, — he said.
- In mid-May, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the EU countries will increase defense spending by €200 billion.
We will have to attract more military personnel under the contract, buy more and modernize the entire set of equipment, Kramnik predicts. In terms of the number of both people and weapons, the Russian army is not very focused on confrontation with NATO, just like the countries of the alliance today are not ready to fight with Russia. “Here is a big question about the possibility of economics” who is better able to support the increase in strength, & mdash; summed up the expert.
For Russia, the strengthening and expansion of NATO does not mean anything good: the northwestern direction is becoming the main threat, says the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine. Reserve Colonel Viktor Murakhovsky. “In that direction against Norway there is a separate army corps and the joint strategic command “North”. Obviously, they will have to be strengthened and the appropriate strike means should be placed there,»,— explained the military expert.
According to the decree of the President of Russia, which entered into force in 2018, the number of the country's Armed Forces is set at 1,902,758 people. Of these, 1013628— military personnel. This is about 400 thousand contract soldiers, about 270 thousand conscripts and a certain number of officers, Murakhovsky recalled. “In all likelihood, a presidential decision will be needed to increase the size of the peacetime army by at least 20%. NATO is growing every year, and it is impossible to leave this unanswered,— concluded the expert.
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