Nato: Russia’s war on Ukraine pushes overhaul of Nato defences

VIITNA: The US Army conducts an air attack. British Marines conduct beach landings at night. French paratroopers drop from the sky after flying over Europe.
In Estonia, day NATOon the eastern flank, the Allies practiced in the shadow of Russia’s War in Ukraine.
Clear message.
“It says that in a short time we can deploy very quickly,” said Lieutenant Colonel Edouard Bros, commander of the French army in Estonia and a participant in the Spring Storm exercise.
Fifteen months after Russia’s war with Ukraine, and a month before the summit of NATO leaders in Vilnius, the alliance is strengthening its eastern defenses.
Now, as Moscow has disrupted order decades after the Cold War, NATO is undertaking the biggest overhaul to its defense and planning systems in a generation.
“This shift will move us from an alliance optimized for out-of-region backup operations to one suited for large-scale operations to protect every inch of territory. of the alliance,” the US general said. Christopher CavoliNato’s supreme commander in Europe, said this month.
“This is necessary because of the new realities we have to face.”
At a summit in Madrid last year, spurred on by the destruction Russia’s military had wrought in Ukraine, NATO returned to “deterrence by denial” as it did during the Cold War. with the Soviet Union.
That means preventing any Moscow attacks on the border, rather than being willing to cede front-line territory like the Baltics, which would then need to be recaptured.
“What is clear is that NATO has made a strategic shift,” said Kristjan Mae, head of policy planning at the Estonian Ministry of Defense.
“Collective defense is the most important task and we need to rearrange our homes.”
Since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the coalition has added thousands of troops to its eastern flank.
Russia has deployed four more multinational “battle groups” in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in addition to those established on Russia’s borders in Poland and the Baltic states after Moscow’s 2014 seizure of Crimea.
NATO members are now planning to scale up their deployments to the Baltic states and Poland to brigade size, which means adding thousands of troops, “where and when needed”.
Military hardware – time consuming and complicated to transport across the continent – is being positioned in the east and exercises are being stepped up.
As for Estonia, Britain will have troops stationed at bases at home, ready to come to this country to support the approximately 1,000 British and French troops present there.
Brigadier General Giles Harris, commander of the UK’s NATO deployment, said: “It’s an important change – the extra layer of capability promptly becomes part of the force in place before the outbreak of conflict. “.
While Estonia seems content with that model, neighboring Lithuania wants more permanent troops on the ground and is still in discussions with its main partner, Germany, about how to get them.
These deployments – along with the armies of the frontline nations – were Nato’s front line of defense.
Back at their headquarters, Nato commanders were drawing up more detailed plans – to be approved by leaders in Vilnius – for how the alliance would defend each region.
That involves detailing force numbers, where countries are going, integrating NATO and national defense planning, and setting clearer spending priorities for new equipment.
Finland’s and eventually Sweden’s Nato membership would also help strengthen the eastern flank, but commanders must decide how the Scandinavian neighbors would fit into broader plans.
The allies plan to mobilize 300,000 ready to deploy within 30 days and will hold a conference in late June to commit personnel.
All these new implementations and plans will inevitably require money, resources, and force.
“If countries need more time, or countries have less money, or there are enough things happening along the way, then it will have a way,” said Admiral Rob Bauer, chairman of Nato’s military committee. influence the attainment of that ideal situation”.
Before the Vilnius summit, NATO members were haggling over a new commitment to increase defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product.
Only seven coalition members have met the two percent target set by 2022, and Vilnius’ goal will be to agree to make that a baseline.
Estonia, which has never stopped seeing Russia as an existential threat, wants its allies to commit to spending 2.5% of GDP on defense.
Tallinn insists she is losing weight. The country of 1.4 million people has increased defense spending by 3% of GDP, created a new army division and purchased modern weapons.
Facing their belligerent giant neighbor, they now want Nato’s new defensive strategies to work as soon as possible.
Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said: “One thing is to have good plans on paper. The other thing is to have these plans feasible and workable.”
“So this is the mission. And this is the challenge for all of us.”


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