Nadezhda Alekseeva & Alena Medvedeva
The North Atlantic Alliance will set in motion defense pl-ans, including the deployment of the Rapid Rea-ction Force “where they are needed.” This was stated by NATO Secret-ary General Jens Stolte-nberg. He added that now more than 100 jet aircraft, as well as more than 120 ships of the countries participating in the alli-ance, are on high alert. Experts believe that the bloc intends to use the situation in Ukraine as an e-xcuse to strengthen and expand its forces on the eastern flank. In addition, according to analysts, in this way NATO expects to make a “psychological i-mpression” on the world community, including Russia.
NATO will begin the implementation of its defense plans, which provide for the deployment of the Rapid Reaction Forces on the territory of the countries participating in the bloc. This was stated by Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance Jens Stoltenberg during a press conference following the results of negotiations at the level of permanent representatives of the member states of the military association. “The North Atlantic Council has decided to put our defense plans into motion at the request of the Supreme Commander of our forces, General Tod Walters,” Stoltenberg said.
According to him, this is “a reasonable step, having a defensive character, which is aimed at protecting and defending the allied states during this crisis.” “It will allow us to deploy our capabilities and military forces, including the NATO Rapid Response Force, where they are needed. In response to Russia’s massive military build-up, we have already strengthened our collective defense on land, at sea and in the air,” he added. Stoltenberg said that in recent weeks, allies from North America and Europe have deployed several thousand additional troops to the eastern part of the alliance. “An even greater number have been put on high alert – more than 100 jet aircraft protecting our airspace, as well as more than 120 allied ships in the seas from the regions of the Far North to the Mediterranean Sea. All this demonstrates our unwavering commitment to collective defense in accordance with Article 5 (North Atlantic Treaty. – RT),” the politician stressed. At the same time, the statement applies only to the member countries of the alliance and does not apply to Ukraine, where NATO does not plan to deploy forces.
Earlier, the North Atlantic Alliance issued a statement about the “serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security” due to Russia’s actions. “We are deploying additional defensive ground and air forces in the eastern part of the Alliance, as well as additional maritime capabilities. We have increased the level of readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies,” the statement said.
“Creation of operational-tactical formations”
Recall that the common defense plan was approved by the defense ministers of NATO member countries in October 2021. As Stoltenberg told reporters at the time, the members of the alliance agreed on a “balanced package of political and military measures”, including strengthening missile defense and air defense, strengthening conventional forces and means with fifth-generation jet aircraft. In addition, it was about adapting exercises and reconnaissance to new conditions and increasing combat readiness.
It should be noted that the alliance has been concentrating forces and strengthening the military infrastructure on the eastern flank for quite a long time. Thus, in October last year, NATO put the Lielvarde military airfield in Latvia into full-scale use after the completion of its modernization and certification. At the same time, following the meeting of NATO defense ministers, Stoltenberg announced an increase in the presence of the alliance in the Black Sea region.
On the night of February 24, 2022, Pentagon spokes-man John Kirby announced the transfer of 800 Ame-rican troops from Italy to the Baltic countries, as well as up to eight F-35 fighter jets from Germany to the eastern flank of NATO. As Aleksey Podberyozkin, director of the MGIMO Center for Military-Political Studies, explained in a commentary to RT, speaking about the “defense plan”, the leadership of the North Atlantic Alliance actually means strengthening its infrastructure in the east.
“We are talking about the creation of dozens of operational-tactical formations, such as battalions, squadrons and naval groups. And all this means increasing the concentration of NATO forces in the east. In the Baltic countries, as well as in Poland and Romania, the alliance will place additional forces, relocate fighter-bombers and some mobile units there. As a rule, units of this kind have about 3-4 thousand military personnel, ”explained Podberezkin. He believes that the forces to be transferred are located in NATO countries in southern Europe and partly in the United States.
“Left no other option”
The alliance made the decision to deploy the Rapid Reaction Force against the backdrop of a special military operation that Russia launched in Ukraine. These events were preceded by a sharp aggravation of the situation in the Donbass. In recent months, the Kiev authorities have increasingly spoken about their unwillingness to impl-ement the Minsk agreements in the form in which they were signed in 2015. So, at the beginning of September 2021, Aleksey Arestovich, adviser to the Kiev delegation in the tripartite contact group , said that Ukraine managed to “get off the hook of the Minsk agreements.”
“This hook doesn’t really exist anymore. Or, in any case, Ukraine and Zelensky are no longer on the hook,” he said on the air of the “Right to Power” program, adding that this was “a huge breakthrough achievement.” Statements of this kind have become a refrain for Ukrainian politicians – for example, Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded a revision of the document back in 2019.
In early February 2022, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of the country, Oleksiy Danilov, in an interview with the Associated Press , said that the implementation of the Minsk agreements by Ukraine would allegedly lead to the collapse of the country.
Against this background, Kiev resumed active military provocations in the region. So, on February 21, the head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, stated that the situation in the republic had become critical due to the shelling of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On the same day, an expanded meeting of the Russian Security Council was held in Moscow, the topic of which was the issue of recognition of the DPR and LPR. In the evening, Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognizing the independence of the republics.
On February 24, the head of the Russian state, during a special video message , announced the start of a special military operation to protect Donbass. This decision was made after a corresponding request from the DPR and LPR for help. “You and I simply have not been left with any other opportunity to protect Russia, our people, except for the one that we will be forced to use today. Circumstances require us to take decisive and immediate action,” Putin explained. He stressed that the purpose of the operation is “to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years.” NATO and the United States refrained from entering into an armed conflict on the side of Kiev. In addition, according to experts, Western countries have tried to withdraw their military instructors from Ukraine, who over the past years have been training the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
“Obviously, the participation of NATO troops, and even more so the troops of individual states, say the United States, in the conflict in Ukraine will result in a large-scale military confrontation, which will not end well for all parties. Ukraine is not a country for which the United States and NATO are ready to take serious risks, ”explained Alexei Podberezkin. At the same time, in his opinion, the alliance will try to use the current situation as an excuse for further development and strengthening of its infrastructure on the eastern flank, even if it is outside of Ukraine.
“The military infrastructure of NATO in Poland, the Baltic States, Romania and Bulgaria has been created for a long time and under various pretexts. Current events are just another such occasion. A reinforced grouping of forces is being created along the perimeter of the Russian borders, ”added Podberyozkin.
Konstantin Blokhin, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shares this point of view. In a RT commentary, he noted that NATO and the United States do not intend to defend the Ukrainian regime with weapons in their hands, but are already actively using the current situation as an excuse to build up their contingent in Eastern Europe.
“The US and NATO will not fight. But they will increase their military presence in satellite countries on the eastern flank. We are talking about the states that the United States considers as a cordon sanitaire – Poland, the Baltic countries, Romania. And this can also be regarded as part of the information war. Such messages are designed not only to strengthen the military position of the alliance, but also to make a psychological impression on the world community, including Russia,” summed up Blokhin.