NATO Confronts New Threats

NATO Confronts New Threats


The U.S. media has only lightly covered the growing danger that Russia is posing to both Ukraine and to NATO.

During the Obama Administration, Moscow executed the first major offensive land grab since the end of the Second World War, seizing Crimea away from Ukraine. The Kremlin took a calculated risk that the White House would not seriously respond. The gamble paid off. Putin remained comparatively low-key during the Trump era. With Biden in the White House, the Kremlin again sees an opportunity to engage in conquest against Ukraine and intimidation against other European states with little threat of an American response.

Moscow has sent bombers into NATO airspace, and moved large numbers of troops towards the Ukrainian border. It has also strategically placed key military units in Belarus, which also borders Ukraine. It has dramatically strengthened its missile forces, and retains the world’s strongest nuclear force.

Clearly, NATO members are appropriately worried. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has stated that the alliance’s ministers have endorsed a new overarching plan to defend our alliance in crisis and conflict to make sure that we continue to have the right forces at the right place, at the right time to protect our one billion people from any threat.”

NATO outlined a series of responses to Moscow’s growing threat, including making significant improvements to our air and missile defences, strengthening conventional capabilities with fifth generation jets, adapting exercises and intelligence, and improving the readiness and effectiveness of its nuclear deterrent.

At a recent meeting of NATO’s defense ministers, it was agreed that NATO members would forces which are heavier, and with more high-end capabilities, and technologically advanced forces, and forces that need to fully exploit emerging and disruptive technologies to make sure that we maintain our technological edge.

Although the USSR-led Warsaw Pact no longer exists, it has been replaced an even deadlier entity in China. Stoltenberg notes: “China is heavily modernizing its military capabilities, including advanced nuclear systems and long range missile systems, and also that we see China coming much closer to us, not least in cyberspace. So that’s what we actually are addressing. So when we then agree to do more together, agree, for instance… a strategy on artificial intelligence, agree to have more technologically advanced weapon systems, agree to do all the other things we have agreed on, on overarching planning also for improving the defence of the Euro-Atlantic area. Of course, all of that is also relevant to the challenges posed by the rise of China.”

The immediate threat to Europe remains the Kremlin’s imminent threat to Ukraine. The German news source DW reports concentrations of up to 100,000 Russian troops on its border with Ukraine, including the type of units that successfully invaded Crimea during the Obama Administration.

Individually, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have expressed deep concern.

In Washington, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) recently joined others on the House Armed Services Committee in writing to President Biden about the massing of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. In the letter, the lawmakers expressed concerns about the situation and called on the President to send Ukraine additional support, including enhanced intelligence and weapons.

“I am increasingly concerned that the Russian buildup along Ukraine’s northern border is more than just a show of strength. The quality of units present, alarming statements from the Russian government, and the leverage that President Biden gifted to Russia by allowing completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are all reason for concern. But despite these warning signs, the White House has displayed a stunning lack of public leadership. That’s why I joined my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee in calling on the President to take concrete action to stand with Ukraine and deter further Russian aggression.”

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government

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