Monday

21st Aug 2017

Nato states pledge troops to Russia-deterrent force

  • British Challenger 2 tanks are to defend Estonia from potential Russian aggression (Photo: Simon Ballantyne)

Nato states are pledging troops to a Russia-deterrent force in the Baltic region, amid concern that Russian warships, due to refuel in Spain, are to join strikes on Aleppo.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato chief, said that defence ministers from Canada, Germany, the UK, and the US would, in Brussels on Wednesday (26 October), “set out their plans for the battalions they will lead” and that other allies would “confirm their contributions” to the deterrent force.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Nato states agreed to deploy the Russia-deterrent force at a summit in Warsaw in July (Photo: nato.it)

“This shows that Nato is able to respond, Nato is able to adapt to a more assertive Russia,” he said.

He said Russia had, over the past six years, tripled defence spending, moved troops and materiel toward Nato borders, and shown “willingness … to use [its] armed forces against [its] neighbours”.

“This [the Baltic force] is a credible deterrence, not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent conflict”, he said.

Canada, Germany, the UK, and the US earlier in July agreed to each lead a battalion of some 1,000 troops to be stationed, from early next year, in the Baltic states and in Poland.

Denmark, France, and Italy have also said they would send troops.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday, the British defence minister, Michael Fallon, said the UK would send about 500 soldiers, as well as drones, Challenger 2 battle tanks, and Warrior armoured vehicles to Estonia

“Although we are leaving the European Union, we remain committed to European security,” he said.

The US is to deploy about 1,000 soldiers, as well as Abrams tanks and Stryker armoured vehicles, mostly in Poland.

A larger force of 40,000 Nato soldiers could also be deployed in the event of Russian aggression.

“We expect a sustained challenge from the east, from Russia, by way of its military activities,” Douglas Lute, the US ambassador to Nato, said on Tuesday.

Spain

Stoltenberg the same day voiced concern that Spain, a Nato member, planned to help a group of Russian warships to get to Syria by offering to refuel them in Ceuta, its exclave in Morocco.

The flotilla, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov, an ageing aircraft carrier, put on a show by sailing past the UK and France a few days ago as EU leaders met in Brussels to condemn Russian air strikes on civilians in the city of Aleppo in Syria.

The Nato chief said he had “conveyed” his worries “very clearly” to Madrid.

“It’s for each nation to decide whether these ships can get supplies … but at the same time we are concerned, and I have expressed that very clearly, about the potential use of this battle group to increase Russia’s ability and to be a platform for air strikes against Syria”, he said.

Spain on Tuesday said it was reconsidering its decision, while Lute and others piled on the pressure.

Lute said a “problem would arise if this ship [the Admiral Kuznetsov] contributes to the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets”.

Gerald Howarth, a former British defence minister, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper, it would be “wholly inappropriate” for Spain to go ahead.

Alan West, a former British naval chief, said it would be “an extraordinary thing for a Nato ally to do”.

EU cooperation

Stoltenberg said defence ministers will also discuss how to help the EU stop irregular migrant crossings in the Aegean and in the Mediterranean.

He said a new Nato mission, to be called Sea Guardian, would help the EU operations in the Mediterranean "in areas of sharing information and logistics”.

He said Nato and the EU were also to cooperate on “hybrid and cyber defence, maritime security and exercises” and on countering Russian propaganda.

“We see that Russia is providing a lot of, is supporting different groups trying to influence domestic debate in different countries in Europe and we see a lot of propaganda”, he said.

Meddling

Russian influence operations were highlighted on Tuesday when the prime minister of Montenegro, Milo Dukanovic, repeated allegations that Russia had planned a coup d’etat during elections earlier this month.

Montenegro is next in line to join Nato, but Dukanovic said that group of some 20 Serbian nationals, who were not connected to the Serbian state, had planned to seize parliament on election day.

"We have a heavy presence of foreign actors in Montenegro," he said.

US authorities have also accused Russia of meddling in the American presidential election.

Nato's Stoltenberg on Tuesday rebuffed comments by Donald Trump, the pro-Russian US candidate, that the US would not protect Nato allies who did not spend enough money on defence.

“We don’t say: If you don’t pay, we won’t protect you,” Stoltenberg said.

EU shames Russia on Aleppo 'massacre'

The EU has named Russia as being partly responsible for a “massacre” of “historic” proportions in Syria, but ruled out extra sanctions or military force.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  3. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  4. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  6. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  7. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  8. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  9. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  10. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  11. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead