Russia-Ukraine crisis: NATO begins planning to reset military posture on eastern flank

Allied leaders are set to gather in Brussels on March 24

By Reuters

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Published: Wed 16 Mar 2022, 12:11 PM

Last updated: Wed 16 Mar 2022, 12:17 PM

NATO is set to tell its military commanders on Wednesday to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including more troops and missile defences in eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said.

While at least 10 of NATO’s biggest allies, including the United States, Britain and France, have deployed more troops, ships and warplanes to its eastern flank, and put more on stand-by, the alliance must still consider how to face up to a new security situation in Europe over the medium term.

Defence ministers from the alliance will order the military advice at NATO headquarters on Wednesday, just over a week before allied leaders, including US President Joe Biden, gather in Brussels on March 24.

“We need to reset our military posture for this new reality,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday. “Ministers will start an important discussion on concrete measures to reinforce our security for the longer term, in all domains.”

Ministers will also hear from their Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov, who is expected to plead for more weapons from individual NATO countries, as Russian attacks on Ukraine’s cities continue and the Russian military seeks control of Kyiv.

“We have to continue to show in action our support to Ukraine,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said as he arrived at the NATO meeting.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Although it has repeatedly said it wants to join to benefit from its protection, Kyiv said on Tuesday it understood it does not have an open door to NATO membership and was seeking other types of security guarantees.

Russian missiles hit a Ukrainian base near the border with NATO member Poland on March 13, bringing the invasion right up to NATO’s doorstep.


Those missiles were from Russia, the United States has said, underscoring Moscow’s ability to hit NATO’s eastern allies. The United States has also warned of undefined consequences for Moscow if Russia were to launch a chemical attack in Ukraine.

NATO, founded in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, is not treaty-bound to defend Ukraine. But it must defend its 30 allies.

However, diplomats say NATO wants to avoid directly stating their plans, or what would trigger their “Article 5” collective defence pledge, saying “strategic ambiguity” is also a defensive instrument against any Russian aggression.

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