NATO agreed on a new master plan on Thursday to deter Russian advances on multiple fronts amidst a new low in the relationship following the ouster of NATO-accredited Moscow envoys and reduction in the number of Russian positions within the alliance.
The confidential strategy, Concept for Deterrence and Defence in the Euro-Atlantic Area, aims to prepare NATO members for attacks from the Baltic and Black Sea regions. The plan has incorporated measures for nuclear, space, and cyber attacks. As for cyber warfare, the meeting concluded with $1 billion in seed funding for developing digital technologies.
“We continue to strengthen our alliance with better and modernised plans,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said following the Thursday meeting. The defense ministers are in Brussels for the two-day event before the NATO summit next June.
NATO diplomats say such measures do not imply that there is an upcoming Russian attack. “This is the way of deterrence,” German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said of the master plan, according to Reuters.
“And this is being adapted to the current behaviour of Russia—and we are seeing violations particularly of the airspace over the Baltic states, but also increasing incursions over the Black Sea,” she told German radio Deutschlandfunk.
Even as Moscow complains about NATO destabilizing Europe through such initiatives, Russia has been holding military drills and amassing almost 100,000 troops near Ukraine borders, sending military aircraft that intrudes into NATO airspace, and developing nuclear-capable missiles.
Alongside ally Belarus, Russia has deployed combat robots in extensive military drills in September that have not gone well with the Baltic countries.
The relationship with NATO had soured after Russian forces annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula back in 2014.
Earlier in the month, NATO expelled eight Russian envoys who were suspected to be intelligence officers. This was combined with halving of the number of seats from 20 to 10 given to Moscow in Brussels headquarters “in response to suspected malign Russian activities, including killings and espionage,” a NATO official said, Sky News reported. In retaliation, Moscow announced that its mission to NATO would be ending.
“The assumption up until now has been that Russia is a nuisance but not an imminent threat. But the Russians are doing some worrying things. They’re practising with robotics, and hypersonic cruise missiles could be very disruptive indeed,” Jamie Shea, a former senior NATO official, said to Reuters.