Focus

Russia looms large as NATO leaders meet in Warsaw

FRANCE 24 screengrab

As NATO leaders meet in Warsaw to give the formal go-ahead to the greatest reinforcement of collective alliance defence since the collapse of the Soviet Union, FRANCE 24 reports on growing tensions that risk a return to Cold War rivalries between East and West.

Advertising

The 28 leaders are expected to announce the deployment of four reinforced multinational battalions, headed by the US, Britain, Canada and Germany, to Poland and the Baltic states.

The new units, totalling roughly 4,000 troops, will serve as a reassurance to allies feeling threatened by Moscow that NATO has their back.

"This is a defining moment for our security. The world is a more dangerous place than just a few years ago,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. “And NATO is responding with speed and with determination. We have tripled the size of NATO response force."

Further to the south, a Romanian-led multinational brigade is also planned as the start of an increased NATO presence designed to reassure and protect allies concerned about Moscow’s beefed-up military presence in the Black Sea.

The measures to be ordered in Warsaw, which complement national actions by the US and some other allies, constitute “the most significant accomplishment of alliance deterrence and defence in decades,” Polish NATO Ambassador Jacek Najder told a pre-summit media briefing in Brussels.

Russian officials have already vowed to take unspecified but appropriate countermeasures.

“The Soviet Union is no more; the Warsaw Pact has ceased to exist,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said recently, referring to the now-defunct military alliance between Moscow and its Eastern European satellites that was also formalised in Poland’s capital. “But for some reason, NATO continues to expand its infrastructure and advance toward Russia’s borders.”

A second major set of decisions expected at the Warsaw summit concern what NATO officials call projecting stability beyond the alliance’s borders. Here a priority concern is the Islamic State group, which has exploited the territory it holds in Syria and Iraq to mount devastating suicide attacks in the NATO-member capitals of Paris and Brussels.

The extremist Muslim organisation is also suspected of last week’s attack by three suicide bombers that killed 44 people at Istanbul’s airport.

At Warsaw, NATO leaders are expected to agree “on how we can do more also in the fight against terrorism, including strengthening our sharing of intelligence,” Stoltenberg said.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning