Nato agrees on plan to deter Russian threat amid China focus

Published October 22, 2021
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference ahead of a meeting of Nato defence ministers at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 20. — Reuters
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference ahead of a meeting of Nato defence ministers at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 20. — Reuters

BRUSSELS: Nato defence ministers agreed a new master plan on Thursday to defend against any potential Russian attack on multiple fronts, reaffirming the alliance’s core goal of deterring Moscow despite a growing focus on China.

The confidential strategy aims to prepare for any simultaneous attack in the Baltic and Black Sea regions that could include nuclear weapons, hacking of computer networks and assaults from space.

“We continue to strengthen our alliance with better and modernised plans,” Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after the meeting, which also agreed a $1 billion fund to provide seed financing to develop new digital technologies.

Officials stress that they do not believe any Russian attack is imminent. Moscow denies any aggressive intentions and says it is Nato that risks destabilising Europe with such preparations.

But diplomats say the “Concept for Deterrence and Defence in the Euro-Atlantic Area” — and its strategic implementation plan — is needed as Russia develops advanced weapon systems and deploys troops and equipment closer to the allies’ borders.

“This is the way of deterrence,” German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said of the plan.

“And this is being adapted to the current behaviour of Russia and we are seeing violations particularly of the air space over the Baltic states, but also increasing incursions over the Black Sea,” she told German radio Deutschlandfunk.

Approval allows for more detailed regional plans by the end of 2022, a US official said, allowing Nato to decide what additional weapons it needs and how to position its forces.

In May, Russia amassed some 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine, the highest number since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, Western officials say. In September, Russia used new combat robots in large military drills with its ex-Soviet ally Belarus that have alarmed Baltic allies.

Russia is upgrading or replacing Soviet military space systems to potentially attack satellites in orbit, developing artificial intelligence-based technologies to disrupt allied command systems, and also developing “super weapons”.

Unveiled in 2018, they include nuclear-capable hypersonic cruise missiles that could evade early-warning systems.

Retired US General Ben Hodges, who commanded US army forces in Europe from 2014 until 2017, said he hoped the plan would foster greater coherence in Nato’s collective defence, meaning more resources for the Black Sea region.

“To me, this is the more likely flashpoint than the Baltics,” Hodges said, noting fewer big allies such as Britain and France have a strong presence in the Black Sea, and Turkey is more focused on conflict in Syria.

Jamie Shea, a former senior Nato official now at the Friends of Europe think-tank in Brussels, said the plan might also help to cement a focus on Russia at a time when major allies are seeking to boost their presence in the Indo-Pacific and counter China’s rising military power.

“The assumption up until now has been that Russia is a nuisance but not an imminent threat. But the Russians are doing some worrying things. They’re practising with robotics, and hypersonic cruise missiles could be very disruptive indeed,” Shea said.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

The establishment pivot
18 Jan, 2022

The establishment pivot

It is a sad reality that the power matrix continues to revolve around the establishment.
18 Jan, 2022

Remittances growth

THE hefty growth in remittances from Pakistanis living abroad continues to defy forecasts to the contrary. New State...
18 Jan, 2022

China-Iran deal

THE China-Iran strategic deal that has recently taken effect is more than just a long-term bilateral agreement...
Security policy unveiled
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Security policy unveiled

PAKISTAN’S freshly unveiled National Security Policy has broadened the traditional concept and included economic...
Bold decisions
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Bold decisions

IT is a double blow within a matter of days. The Islamabad High Court’s order last week to demolish a navy golf...
17 Jan, 2022

Rohingya camp blaze

A HUGE blaze in a refugee camp housing members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh last week has left up to ...