NATO ministers will be reviewing possible strategy in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. / NATO
BRUSSELS — NATO defense ministers meeting here June 3 and 4 will review short-term measures they have taken to shore up collective defense in response to the Ukraine crisis and will consider the longer-term implications of Russian aggression.
The meeting marks the first for defense ministers since Russia annexed Crimea and will be the last meeting before the NATO summit in Wales this September. They will discuss the longer-term implications for the alliance of events in and around Ukraine and possible future steps.
The short-term measures taken by NATO to reassure allies in Eastern Europe included bolstered air policing, AWACS flights, reinforced maritime patrols in the Baltic and east Mediterranean seas, and land reinforcements in Poland and the Baltics.
“We’re looking at this heightened posture continually and assessing whether it’s enough. If some allies are concerned about security, then it’s a concern for NATO as a whole. We’ll do what’s needed for as long as needed. There are plans for more and more visible exercises, updated threat assessments, crisis response planning, including when we have little warning. These are some strands and elements of a readiness action plan NATO is currently considering,” said a senior NATO official.
“In view of the military capabilities Russia has shown in the context of the Ukraine crisis, our experts believe we need to look into the Response Force and what needs to be done to enhance its ability to respond speedily to any build-up on our eastern borders. A variety of measures could be taken. These are under consideration,” he added.
In addition, ministers will discuss how to use the Wales summit to better address defense spending in the light of the changed security environment and the strategic implications of Russia’s actions and postures.
Separately, they are also expected to approve NATO’s enhanced cyber policy to reflect the growing frequency and sophistication of the attacks.
“NATO’s fundamental job is to defend its own systems. Allies are responsible for the security of their national systems but allies agree that cyberdefense is part of collective defense and allies can and will assist each other to improve resilience,” said the official.
Support for Georgia and NATO’s presence in Afghanistan are other major points on the agenda. ■