The war in Ukraine is in its forty-sixth day (on Sunday), and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg predicts a “permanent troop presence” on the Eastern flank, which reaches from the Baltic to the Black Sea. When NATO leaders meet this coming June in Madrid, this decision will be considered and could result in a “reset.”
Stoltenberg told The Telegraph: “What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security. Therefore, we have now asked our military commands to provide options for what we call a reset, a more longer-term adaption of NATO.” Stoltenberg went on to say that the organization received a “wake-up call” in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
The organization believes that the annexation of Crimea was reinforcement of the importance of NATO, an alliance born of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty. This treaty involved Canada, the United States, and multiple European countries. As of this writing, NATO has placed 40,000 additional troops in the area where the proposed permanent presence of troops would take place.
Before Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, NATO’s troop presence was meant to “symbolize the alliance’s commitment to defend itself from Russian attack.” The “reset” would involve “deterrence by denial of defense” rather than the “trip wire deterrence” that the presence of troops meant prior to the Ukrainian conflict.
Stoltenberg says that the transformation of NATO is a response to “the long term consequences of Putin’s actions.”
Stoltenberg touted the power of the NATO alliance, and said a transformation is necessary to continue the organization’s ability to protect both Europe and North America. Stoltenberg also lauded the ability of the NATO alliance to “united Europe and North America” while being able to transform based on world events. Stoltenberg says that the current world situation demands a change in the way the alliance does things.
Stoltenberg also addressed concerns that Russia and China could be working together; he told The Telegraph that NATO is “finalizing a new strategic concept to account for Beijing having the second largest defense budget in the world.” Stoltenberg views this as a shift in the balance of power globally, which he acknowledged poses a “direct consequence for NATO.” Stoltenberg added that China has in recent years invested in both “long-range missiles as well as modern nuclear capabilities” – each having the ability to reach countries in the NATO alliance.
The Associated Press and Fox News are reporting on Sunday morning that six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed in Belgrade on Saturday; the cargo was said to be HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems “for the Serbian military.” When the Associated Press reached out to the Serbian defense ministry for comment, the agency did not immediately respond.
Military experts are describing this as “a demonstration of China’s growing global reach.”
Stoltenberg’s comments come at the same time as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns that all of Europe should be concerned with the threat of a Russian attack. Zelenskyy said, “The catastrophe that will inevitably hit everyone because Russian aggression was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone . . . the who European project is a target for Russia.”
On Sunday, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson walked the streets of Ukraine with President Zelenskyy to survey the horrific damage in Kyiv. British intelligence holds that Russia has started contacting former soldiers in order to bolster their depleting troops in Ukraine. It is possible they may also contact citizens in Moldova’s Transnistria region to also recruit soldiers.
While Zelenskyy has said that he would rescind his request to join NATO, Finland’s Prime Minister said that the country is considering sending an application to join the alliance before the middle of summer 2022. The governmental bodies will have to vote on the approval of the move, but, if the Finnish government gives the go-ahead, an application from Finland could be sent to NATO by May or June.