Russia’s UN Initiative – Chance for Peace as NATO Mulls Stockpiling in Eastern Europe

Russia’s UN Initiative – Chance for Peace as NATO Mulls Stockpiling in Eastern Europe

NATO’s top Europe commander believes the alliance should preposition weapons, ammunition and all kinds of supplies in Poland to support the deployment of a large force in case of hostilities with Russia. General Philip Breedlove, Commander, US European Command, and the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), told a briefing in Naples that NATO needed «pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces» to enable a rapid reinforcement in the event of a crisis. 

The leading contender is Multinational Corps Northeast, in Szczecin, Poland. The General «wants to use an existing headquarters in the NATO structure and focus them fully on the «Article 5 mission» - an attack on one is an attack on all. No NATO official said so, but it would be logical to conjecture that a U.S.-led brigade headquarters would be part of the new staff. General Philip Breedlove’s idea would be presented to members of the alliance at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales in September, according to The Times.

The alliance has already strengthened its presence in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea and deployed additional military aircraft in Eastern Europe as demonstrative hostile actions against Russia.

The stockpiling of supplies is just a step short of a permanent massive deployment of foreign NATO troops in Poland. Poland is home to the Drawsko Pomorskie training area (DPTA), which at 340 square kilometers is far larger than training areas in any of the Baltic countries. Units exercising at DPTA can conduct live-fire and maneuver training, plus DPTA includes an airstrip, barracks, a railhead with links to nearby Baltic Sea ports and other infrastructure. Basing in Poland – vice any of the Baltic countries – provides greater strategic depth for NATO forces in the event of war time scenario.

The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that among other actions, the U.S. military is dusting off decades-old plans, just in case. «We’re looking inside our own readiness models to look at things that we haven’t had to look at for 20 years, frankly, about basing and lines of communication and sea lanes», the General said at the Aspen Security Forum on July 24. (2) In addition to its own plans, the U.S. military is having «conversations with our NATO allies about increasing their capability and readiness» and that there’s a «very active» ongoing process and debate about how best to provide support to Ukraine. «I wouldn’t misinterpret my presence here today sitting with you… We’re not sitting still», Mr. Dempsey informed.

According to him, Russia’s actions in Ukraine signaled a significant «change in the relationship of the U.S. and Russia,» but America’s first response should be to look at NATO and the role it played against the Soviet Union a half century ago… 

On July 31 British the Guardian reported a cross-party group of MPs of Commons defense committee found NATO to be poorly prepared for a military conflict and in the need of a major reform. The report says the alliance must deploy more military equipment to the Baltic States, maintain a «continuous presence» of troops training in the Baltic Sea region, and beef up NATO's rapid reaction force among many other things to boost the military capability. 

The paper calls for radical improvements in Russian expertise within the British government, «allowing for real analysis and assessment of the Russian threat», it added. The Ministry of Defence, as a matter of urgency, must build up «its capacity to understand the nature of the current security threat from Russia and its motivations».

Sounds very menacing just like in the Cold War days.

In July the accords have been reached on the urgent enhancement of Lithuania - Poland - Ukrainian brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG) bringing it up to operational status. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - Visegrad Group (V4) confirmed the commitment to bring to the operational status a joint body would comprise 3,000 soldiers together with the Ukraine’s military. 

The 2014 plans include a two-month exercise in Eastern Europe right after the September NATO summit in Wales. Exercise Black Eagle will be conducted from October to December. Looks like we’re back to large-scale exercises like Autumn Forge and Reforger. Remember the 1980s? Britain has already announced it will send 1,350 personnel and more than 350 armored and other vehicles - the biggest British force sent to Eastern Europe since 2008. 

Meanwhile on July 24 the co-chairs of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus in the United States' House of Representatives: Jim Gerlach (Republican Party), Marcy Kaptur, and Sander Levin (both Democratic Party) proposed designating Ukraine as a major non-NATO ally of the United States. The proposed bill HR 5190 (the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014) would instruct the White House to assess the needs of Ukraine's armed forces within 15 days of its passage, and provide its government with weapons, ammunition, military vehicles, body armor, training and other defense articles requested by Ukraine's government. The bill would authorize the United States to share intelligence it collects with Ukraine's government, and to designate Ukraine as a «major non-NATO ally» for foreign assistance purposes. This legislation also calls on President and the Secretary of State to increase defense cooperation between the U.S. military and the armed forces of Ukraine.

Moscow considers the build-up of NATO troops in Europe as part of a hostile policy aimed at placing the alliance’s military resources closer to its territory. Speaking at a July 22 session of the Russian Security Council in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that NATO forces were strengthening positions closer to Russia's border. He said Russia needs to react «appropriately and proportionately» to NATO's moves. Putin recommended boosting Russia's defense potential, «including in Crimea and Sevastopol, where we have to build a military structure practically from scratch». Russia’s current military doctrine allows the use of all weapons in its possession, including tactical nuclear weapons, in response to a conventional force attack on Russia.

As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov put it meeting press on July 28, «I guess you read analytical materials regarding current preparations for the September summit of NATO – to arrange members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a new way, to strike through the foundations of the Rome Declaration, the Founding Act, based on which the West and Russia agreed to cooperate. It is just that there are those, who want the Ukrainian crisis to continue, and they want to use it as a pretext to radically change all those positive things, which have been reached in the relations between Russia and the West in the last decade».

This month Russia has submitted the elements of a future resolution on Ukraine to the United Nations Security Council after two Russia-initiated draft resolutions on Ukraine had been rejected. On July 11 Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin told journalists that Russia will no longer contribute to the Security Council by implementing draft resolution on Ukraine. Instead, Russia introduced the principles (elements) on which the future resolution should be built. He made a special statement on the situation in Ukraine stressing that Russia introduced the basic lines to adhere to while preparing the text of the future document. «We will not make another draft of a resolution. Instead, we offer the key elements that we believe are necessary to be included in the text of the resolution that UN Security Council will adopt», said the Russian diplomat. Churkin emphasized that the elements contained a demand to the parties of the conflict to end violence.

Among the growing tensions and hostile rhetoric this is a good chance to grab for reaching a peaceful settlement in Ukraine and reducing tensions in Europe. A peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crisis is absolutely essential. To serve the interest of all the Russian peaceful effort should not go down the drain. 

Tags: NATO  UN  Eastern Europe  Poland  Russia