18th Mar 2018

EU considers 'military approach' to local threats

  • Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia want permanent Nato troops stationed on their territories (Photo: European External Action Service)

The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Thursday (14 May) said the EU cannot ignore the military aspects of new threats surrounding Europe.

Speaking before her third ministerial meeting of Nato ministers in Antalya, Turkey, Mogherini said that the EU wants to increase co-operation with the alliance of 28 states.

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“The European Union is very much aware of the fact that we need to increase our capacity to crisis. This for the European Union, very different from Nato, does not necessarily mean a military approach but cannot rule out a military aspect of our work in the region and in the world,” she said.

The EU is planning to launch a full-scale naval assault against migrant traffickers in Libya. According to Reuters, Nato is willing to help.

The Antalya meeting also discussed on-going tensions in Ukraine and the broader Russian aggression.

On Thursday, two Russian strategic bombers were escorted away from British airspace by RAF Typhoon fighter jets. The bombers did not enter UK territory.

But similar moves and others since Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year are part of a larger pattern of its military assertion against Europe.

Reported threats by Russia to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea have put senior Nato officials on high alert.

Nato supreme commander US Air Force General Philip Breedlove at the Antalya meeting described Kremlin’s nuclear rhetoric as irresponsible posturing.

“This discussion of nukes and the possibility of moving nukes into certain areas or employing nukes if something had not gone correctly in Crimea and all these other things, which have been put out there — this is not responsible language from a nuclear nation,” he said.

A Nato joint-statement earlier this week noted that any “future stationing of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems in Crimea” would destablise the region.

It condemned Russia’s on-going military build-up in Crimea and further military build-up in the Black Sea, “which will potentially have further implications for the stability of the region.”

It noted Russia needs to withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukraine and accused Russian-backed rebels of violating the ceasefire along the contact line.

Meanwhile, Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is working with the EU to counter Russia’s combination of conventional attacks with subversion, cyber attacks, deception and disinformation.

“We will ensure that the strategies we are developing are complimentary, so that we can work together quickly and effectively in case of a hybrid threat against our members,” he said.

It includes possibly sending brigade-sized units of up to several thousand soldiers to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The three Baltic countries sent a letter of request for Nato to deploy the extra troops.

"When we receive the letter we will go carefully through the letter and assess the proposals in that letter," said Stoltenberg.

The US, for its part, is rotating around 600 of its troops between the Baltic states and Poland.

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