NATO leaders meeting in Madrid on June 29th are set to label Russia a menace to their security, as they overhaul the alliance’s defenses in response to the war on Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
“We’ll state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security,” Stoltenberg said ahead of the unveiling of NATO’s new strategic blueprint.
Stoltenberg said the meeting in Madrid was set to be “historic and transformative” for the seven-decade-old alliance as it grapples with the fallout from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We meet in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” Stoltenberg said.
NATO is due to launch the largest revamp of its defense and deterrence capabilities since the end of the Cold War by strengthening the forces on its eastern flank and massively ramping up the number of troops it has at high readiness.
It is also set for the first time to turn its attention to the challenge posed by the rising might of China in an update to its guiding “strategic concept.”
“China’s not an adversary,” Stoltenberg said.
“But of course, we need to take into account the consequences to our security when we see China investing heavily in new modern military capabilities, long-range missiles or nuclear weapons and also trying to control critical infrastructure for instance, 5G,” he added.
As a sign of this shift, the leaders of partners South Korea and Japan also attended the NATO summit for the first time.
Biden announces US military reinforcements in Europe
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced US reinforcements of NATO forces in Europe, saying the alliance is needed more today “than it ever has been.”
NATO will be “strengthened in all directions across every domain—land, air and sea,” he said at a summit of the transatlantic alliance being held in Madrid.
Biden, who was meeting with Stoltenberg, said the extra forces included boosting the fleet of US naval destroyers from four to six in Rota, Spain; enhancing rotational deployments in the Baltic countries; and reinforcing air defense and other capabilities in Germany and in Italy.
An “additional rotational brigade” in Romania, consisting of “3,000 fighters and another 2,000 personnel combat team” is also being planned as are two additional squadrons of the F-35 stealth plane to Britain.
Finally, a permanent headquarters in Poland of the 5th Army Corps is also being considered, as was discussed in the Stoltenberg meeting.
“Together with our allies we’re going to make sure that NATO is ready to meet the threats from all directions across every domain,” Biden said.
NATO’s expansion “is the opposite” of what Putin had hoped for
“In a moment where [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very, very tenets of rule-based order, the United States and our allies, we’re going to step up,” he said.
“We’re stepping up,” Biden announced, and “proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been and it’s important as it ever has been.”
Referring to NATO unity on accepting the applications of previously neutral Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, Biden said Putin’s strategy in invading Ukraine had backfired.
“That’s exactly what he didn’t want but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe,” Biden said.
Stoltenberg commented that the expansion of NATO was “the opposite” of what Putin hoped for.