Presidents Hollande and
Obama at the Normandy American Cemetery
at Omaha Beach. Mr. Hollande
has had to go to great lengths to keep
Obama and Russian
President Putin apart, even having to eat dinner
twice yesterday evening -
one with each of his guests.
NATO Badly Divided on Stationing Troops in East Europe; Facing Moscow (Die Welt, Germany)
"NATO members from the Baltics and
East Europe are calling for a lasting and visible presence of combat troops and
up-to-date equipment in Eastern Europe. Many southern European countries think
this is going too far. Within senior NATO circles, Germany is 'extremely
cautious.' ... It has apparently already been decided that NATO countries will
continue to uphold the 1977 basic agreement with Russia. According to the
treaty, 'substantial combat troops' may not be permanently stationed in
territories belonging to Warsaw Pact countries. The central question now will be:
'What exactly is meant by "substantial combat troops.'"
NATO is faced
with key decisions. But the alliance is divided on the issue of stationing permanent
troops in Eastern Europe.
Brussels: They met for
the first time in three months, and sat together for almost two hours. They
directed accusations at one another, and one after the other, read prepared
statements. The atmosphere was glacial, even though Russian Ambassador
Alexander Gruschko was the one to request the meeting
among 28 NATO ambassadors as part of the NATO-Russia
Council. There was hope for a gradual rapprochement between NATO and Russia
- despite the Ukraine crisis.† That
is nothing. There are no signs of hope," said one NATO diplomat.
wonít make the meeting between the 28 NATO defense ministers, scheduled for
Tuesday in Brussels, any easier. On the contrary. The defense alliance is
facing key decisions in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan - but so far there are
no answers in sight - and time is short.
early September at the NATO summit in Wales, the heads of state and governments
will decide on a new defense plan for Eastern Europe, on an overall improvement
in military capabilities, more equitable financial burden sharing within the Alliance,
and on the training mission "Resolute Support,"
slated to begin in Afghanistan in 2015.
to discuss the consequences of Ukraine crisis
the annexation of Crimea, NATO still isn't clear about how to respond to the threat
Russia poses to Eastern Europe. "When NATO defense ministers meet in
Brussels this week, we will discuss the short- and long-term consequences of
the Ukraine crisis for NATO," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Die
pointed out that the Alliance has already introduced numerous short-term
measures, such as improved air and naval surveillance.
of the 28 members of the Alliance is participating in their own way with ships,
aircraft, troops, and planners. I call that "solidarity in action,"
said Rasmussen.† Now it is a matter of
taking a look at long-term consequences. "Russiaís illegal annexation of
Crimea and its continued acts of aggression against Ukraine have created a new
security situation in Europe."
the new long-term measures for an improved defense and a credible deterrent
with respect to Russia should look like, however, is still completely open. At
Polandís request, the defense †ministers will
at a minimum discuss augmenting the currently 250 person-strong Multinational
Corps Northeast in Stettin, Poland. Most likely, Germany will boost its
troops by about 50 soldiers, and going forward, rotating troops will be
assigned to NATO headquarters in Stettin for training purposes.
Europeans feel threatened by Russia
from the point of view of Eastern Europeans and citizens of the Baltic states,
this would be just a drop in the bucket. They perceive Russia as an "enemy,"
and feel threatened right on their doorstep.
still wants to depict problems in Ukraine as an internal conflict. But they are
not. Russiaís aggressive behavior provoked this conflict," Estoniaís NATO Ambassador
LauriLepik tells Die Welt.
addition to large-scale NATO maneuvers, NATO members from the Baltic region and
Eastern Europe are calling for a lasting and visible presence of combat troops
and up-to-date equipment in Eastern Europe. Many southern European countries think
this is going too far. Within senior NATO circles, Germany is "extremely
cautious" as well. "Thatís disappointing," said one NATO
official. The alliance is deeply divided on the issue of stationing permanent troops
in Eastern Europe.
defense ministers know this. On the evening of June 3 in Brussels, beginning at
7:30 pm, they intend to speak plainly. Then they will run through the mandatory
agenda, after which they allegedly plan to work out the details. The program
reads† "Strategic Implications of
the Russia-Ukraine Crisis," and "Changes in the Defense Posture,"
as they say in the internal jargon of NATO. It has apparently already been
decided that NATO countries will continue to uphold the 1977 basic agreement with
to the treaty, "substantial combat troops" may not be permanently
stationed in territories belonging to Warsaw Pact countries, so that Russia
doesn't feel threatened.
More money is
needed for defense
central question now will be: "What exactly is meant by "substantial
combat troops." This has always been left unresolved. Expert opinions run
anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 troops. The Eastern Europeans, primarily the
Poles, now want concrete answers and clear assurances from their Alliance
partners - not just assurances that their partners will provide assistance in
the event of an attack, but assurances that they can provide assistance.
from the question of how many combat troops will be permanently stationed in
Eastern Europe, the issue of whether or not a permanent troop presence is even
meaningful will be debated. According to military experts, increased levels of
deployment readiness and troop flexibility are much more important:
Posted By Worldmeets.US
must be able to send troops rapidly to where needed.† Therefore, NATO Supreme Commander Philip
Breedlove intends to recommend to the ministers that the reaction speed of
Response Force should be improved.
thing is already clear: In view of the new challenges in the east, NATO must
improve its military capabilities and put more money into defense.†
that the recession is over in many countries, we expect defense budgets to rise,"
said Douglas Lute, America's ambassador to NATO. Rasmussen emphasized, "We
need the right capabilities to maintain a credible defense."
the past five years, Russia has boosted investment in the area of defense by 10
percent per year, while some European Alliance members have reduced their
expenditures by as much as 40 percent.
know it's not easy to reverse this trend of cutting defense spending, but our
security is the foundation of our economic well-being and life-style, and to
protect it, we must invest in defense," Rasmussen said.
also be on the agenda
subject is likely to lead to heated debate at the meeting of defense
ministers.† In Germany, especially, expectations
are high for sending troops to Eastern Europe, which will increase expenditures.
Berlin spent just 1.34 percent of GDP on defense, considerably less than the 2
percent called for by NATO. This puts Europeís richest country in 14th place in
Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, said she doesnít see the former Soviet
Republic of Georgia becoming part of NATO in the foreseeable future, and that adding
Georgia as a new member isnít on the agenda in Wales, either. Like Ukraine,
Georgia aspires for inclusion in the defense alliance.
important item on the ministers' agenda: Afghanistan. The alliance was taken completely
by surprise by President Barack Obamaís announcement that, starting in 2015,
just 9,800 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan, primarily for training
purposes - and would be withdrawn again by 2016. This puts the previous
deployment concept for the training mission "Resolute Support" at
risk. It is also unclear whether after the American withdrawal in two years, the
mission in Afghanistan should be brought to a close entirely.