NATO to focus on deterrence, ‘managing’ Russia ties at July summit

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) speaks during the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw, Poland, 28 May 2018. [Pawel Supernak/EPA/EFE]

NATO said Monday (28 May) it will focus on five key areas from deterrence to modernisation and EU relations at its July summit, with measures to “manage” ties with an increasingly assertive Russia high on the agenda.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told lawmakers at the spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw that the summit will also focus on projecting stability in border regions — particularly in the south — as well as burden-sharing.

Building on the alliance’s 2016 decision to deploy battle groups on its eastern flank facing Russia, Stoltenberg said he expected leaders at the 11-12 July summit in Brussels to “make decisions on reinforcement, readiness and military mobility” of forces.

“Our deterrence and defence is not only dependent on the forces we have deployed, but it also very much depends on our ability to move forces quickly if needed,” he said.

NATO member states have deployed around 4,000 troops to the Baltic states and Poland to counter the threat to the alliance’s eastern flank, particularly since the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

With relations between Russia and the West at a post-Cold War low, the NATO chief also said he expected the alliance to reiterate its “dual-track” approach towards Moscow, “about deterrence and defence combined with political dialogue”.

“Even if we don’t believe in a better relationship with Russia in the near future, we need to manage our relationship with Russia,” he added.

The 2018 summit comes against a backdrop of increasing concern about growing Russian assertiveness in the areas of cyber and so-called hybrid warfare.

‘Hybrid warfare’

NATO allies have accused Russia of using “hybrid warfare” techniques which include subversion, propaganda as well as cyber-attacks, to undermine the West without triggering a full NATO military response.

In a special report on countering Russia’s hybrid threats, Britain’s Lord Jopling told the assembly over the weekend that the alliance should consider a new collective “Article 5B” defence provision to trigger a collective response in the event of a hybrid warfare attack.

“The article would make clear that hybrid attacks would trigger a collective response from the alliance,” the report said.

NATO’s Article 5 collective defence commitment requires all member states to come to the rescue if any of their peers are attacked.

In March, US General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of NATO forces in Europe, said member states were working to determine when a cyber-attack could be considered to have triggered Article 5.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday that Russia’s planned Nord Stream II natural gas pipeline to alliance-member Germany “is a new hybrid weapon aimed at the European Union, the countries of the European Union and NATO.

Poland and Baltic state NATO members, as well as non-members like Ukraine, have warned that Moscow could use the pipeline to undermine their energy security.

Stoltenberg said that there was no consensus within the alliance on the issue and that it did not “have tools to do anything with that kind of energy project.”

US: Nord Stream raises intelligence concerns

The planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany raises US intelligence and military concerns since it would allow Moscow to place new listening and monitoring technology in the Baltic Sea, a senior US official said on Thursday (17 May).

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