Back from holiday we’ve noticed that little attention was paid on web media in France to the NATO summit that was held in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on 8 and 9 July. And what is striking is that whilst media attention is focussed on the terrorist organisation Daesh, NATO’s attention is focussed on Russia, even if it stressed in its 139-paragraph final communique that: “Terrorism, particularly as perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Da’esh, has risen to an unprecedented level of intensity, reaches into all of Allied territory, and now represents an immediate and direct threat to our nations and the international community.”
NATO heads of state and government noted that even if the “Alliance faces a range of security challenges and threats that originate both from the east and from the south; from state and non-state actors; from military forces and from terrorist, cyber, or hybrid attacks,” it is “Russia’s aggressive actions, including provocative military activities in the periphery of NATO territory and its demonstrated willingness to attain political goals by the threat and use of force” that “are a source of regional instability, fundamentally challenge the Alliance, have damaged Euro-Atlantic security, and threaten our long-standing goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”
They pointed out that the Alliance has tried over the past 20 years to build a partnership with Russia but that Moscow “has breached the values, principles and commitments which underpin the NATO-Russia relationship […], broken the trust at the core of our cooperation, and challenged the fundamental principles of the global and Euro-Atlantic security architecture.” After listing some of Russia’s “destabilising actions and policies” including “the violation of sovereign borders by force”, “provocative military activities near NATO borders” and its “significant military presence and support for the regime in Syria”, the summit’s final communique notes that NATO “has responded to this changed security environment by enhancing its deterrence and defence posture, including by a forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, and by suspending all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia, while remaining open to political dialogue with Russia.”
And they called on Russia “to make good use of all lines of communication” including military ones, “to address the critical issues we face”, remarking that “talking to Russia allows us to communicate clearly our positions, with the crisis in and around Ukraine being, in current circumstances, the first topic on our agenda.”
In light of the changed security environment, NATO said it had “decided to establish an enhanced forward presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to unambiguously demonstrate, as part of our overall posture, Allies’ solidarity, determination, and ability to act by triggering an immediate Allied response to any aggression. Beginning in early 2017, enhanced forward presence will comprise multinational forces provided by framework nations and other contributing Allies on a voluntary, sustainable, and rotational basis.”
These forces will take the shape of “four battalion-sized battlegroups that can operate in concert with national forces, present at all times in these countries, underpinned by a viable reinforcement strategy.” Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States will serve as framework nations in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland respectively. Poland has also offered to provide an existing division headquarters as a basis for the establishment of a multinational division headquarters.