NATO to Increase its Rapid Reaction Force and will Double its Military in Eastern Europe

World | June 27, 2022, Monday // 18:14
Bulgaria: NATO to Increase its Rapid Reaction Force and will Double its Military in Eastern Europe NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO leaders are set to approve the alliance's new strategic concept this week, with a huge increase in rapid reaction force.

In addition to doubling the forces that will be deployed in Eastern Europe in the context of the war in Ukraine, the number of troops that can be deployed in a high readiness for rapid response is also increasing: from 40,000 to "well over" 300,000.

This was announced by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg a day before the summit of the countries of the Defense Union in Madrid.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was a guest at the G7 summit today, will also take part - albeit remotely. Japan, Austria, New Zealand and South Korea will also be present at the meeting for the first time.

According to him, NATO battalions in Eastern Europe will be turned into brigades. This suggests that the forces that will be stationed in them will at least double, given the threat from Russia.

The Rapid Reaction Forces, on the other hand, are a combination of ground, naval and air forces, the aim of which is to be able to deploy quickly in the event of an attack. For the first time, they were put on alert because of the war in Ukraine, and multinational battle groups are now stationed in countries bordering Russia: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.

If we compare it with the time before the annexation of Crimea, the increase is a total of 25 times, as in 2014 these forces numbered only 13 thousand people.

"Our meeting will be transformative and will include many important decisions," Stoltenberg said. Among them is the increase in aid to Ukraine now and in the future. New aid packages will be adopted for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova and Georgia, as well as for Mauritania and Tunisia.

China will also be an important topic because of the growing influence of the Asian giant in NATO's southern neighbors. However, details of what words will be used in the final declaration have yet to be clarified: here the partners are separated.

The biggest change in collective defense

The Allies will declare Russia "the biggest and most significant threat to our security," Stoltenberg said. To this end, a €1 billion investment by NATO countries will be approved in order to develop the dual-use technologies of the future through a special innovation fund.

This will be the biggest change in our collective defense and containment since the Cold War. We need to invest more. Today we are releasing new batches of defense spending. The current 2022 will be the eighth in a row of rising spending by European allies and Canada,” said Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg also announced that by the end of the year, European allies will have invested an additional 0 billion since 2014. According to him, nine allies have reached or are about to reach the goal set at the time, of defense spending of 2% of gross domestic product, and 19 plan to do so by 2024.

Bulgaria has increased its defense spending by 7.49% compared to last year.

Meeting with Turkey, Sweden and Finland

Stoltenberg also announced that he would meet with representatives of Turkey, Sweden and Finland at the forum - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, and President Sauli Niinisto - to discuss the possibility of overcoming Ankara's veto on the two countries' candidacy.

Over the weekend, Erdogan said there was still no breakthrough and he did not see Turkey's demands being granted, as Stockholm and Helsinki sheltered Kurdish fighters believed to be terrorists in his country, as well as their reaction to Turkish military operations against Kurdish forces in Syria.

The initiative for the meeting came from Stoltenberg, who expressed hope that a consensus would still be reached to allow for the historic step. Sweden and Finland, hitherto neutral, made the decision after the war in Ukraine changed the attitudes of the societies, and thus the direction of the leaders' thinking. Russia, whose border with Finland is 1,300 km long, warns that it will not leave the decision of the Scandinavian countries without consequences.

Stoltenberg will meet with Andersson, who spoke with Erdogan on Saturday by phone. Today, there will be lower-level meetings between the three countries and representatives of the alliance in order to continue the negotiations until the last moment. Asked if he still saw a chance for a breakthrough, the secretary-general pointed out that Turkey has its concerns that need to be addressed. "I will not make promises, but I can assure you that we are working actively to ensure progress," he said.

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