Underlining Europe’s “new normal” in the face of Russian military provocations, NATO’s secretary general said on Wednesday that the alliance was drawing up plans for new combat units in central and southeastern Europe, while Britain said it was doubling in size. of its NATO deployment in Estonia.
“We don’t know what will happen in Ukraine,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “But the situation has already demonstrated that we are facing a European security crisis. Moscow has made it clear that it is ready to challenge the fundamental principles that have underpinned our security for decades, and to do so by using force. I regret to say that this is the new normal in Europe.”
NATO defense ministers have asked military commanders to plan new combat units to boost the military alliance’s presence in member countries close to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, said Mr Stoltenberg.
The ministers “decided to develop options to further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence, including considering the creation of new NATO battlegroups in central, eastern and southeastern Europe”, said Mr. Stoltenberg at a press conference.
The small battlegroups could be set up in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia, adding to those already established on a rotational basis in Poland and the three Baltic countries after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 .
France has already offered to create a multinational battle group in Romania, which has expressed interest in hosting one, Stoltenberg said.
Separately, Britain announced on Wednesday that it would send additional equipment, including tanks and armored fighting vehicles, to Estonia. Britain is already the lead nation for the multinational battalion there, with around 900 soldiers.
“Alongside our NATO allies, we are deploying land, sea and air troops and assets to reinforce European defenses in response to the build-up of Russian military forces on the Ukrainian border,” said the British Defense Secretary. , Ben Wallace, in a press release. .
A battle group, including armored vehicles and personnel, will leave bases in Germany and Britain and begin arriving in Estonia over the coming week, the statement said. He also said Apache helicopters would soon make their way to conduct exercises with partners in Eastern Europe.