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13 noiembrie 2018 - Special reports - NATO - UE

NATO - EU Political - Military Events / November (I)

Ştefan Oprea

Sursă foto: Mediafax


  • Military mobility a key factor in projecting and supporting NATO forces;
  • NATO calls on Russia to comply with the Interim Nuclear Forces Treaty


  • Meeting of the Military Committee of the European Union (EUMC) at the Chiefs of Defence level


  • Belgium has decided to buy F-35 fighters;
  • The first PIRANHA V Armoured Wheeled Vehicles arrived in Romania



Military mobility a key factor in projecting and supporting NATO forces

The NATO Exercise, “Trident Juncture 2018”, underway, is proving to be the most ambitious deployment of Alliance training efforts over the past 30 years. The exercise will contribute to operational harmonization and the establishment of joint discouraging capabilities for the whole of Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region, in order to reshape the Western defense capability in the region. The increased speed of deploying the forces and their proper support in imminent crisis areas are part of the new approaches that will be practiced during this exercise in the Alliance's effort to adapt to the new international security environment.

The reconfiguration of the global security environment, when threats include multiple regions and domains, when most instability situations and challenges are interconnected, and when these tendencies and threats prove to be of a lasting nature, with a potentially fluid, ambiguous and rapid transition to conflict, involves multiple types of civil and military responses to the crisis.

NATO, the main politico-military and security alliance on the international arena must thus prospect beyond the current planning horizons and adapt its readiness posture and responsiveness to ensure that NATO can fulfil its basic tasks into the foreseeable future.

Starting from the premise that movement and logistics are vital elements of the deployment of the forces and the ability to fight, the current changes to the type of threats to transatlantic security entails switching from a specific Cold War logistics (pre-established at the border between the two Germanys) to one to enable it to carry out its transatlantic missions, separately or simultaneously, while defending and discouraging a widespread a conventional war in Europe.

Therefore, the issue of moving Allied forces around Europe has become a subject of significant debate. The speed of deploying the forces and supporting them into an imminent crisis areas will provide policy-makers with a greater number of options and the possibility to prevent the way for armed confrontation.

The reminiscences of the Cold War and the considerable diminishing of US combat power, previously stationed in Europe, made it today as the balance of troops and equipment available for a conventional war in Europe to be much lower. As a consequence of this situation, Europe's defense depends to a large extent on the capacity to assemble forces to strengthen defense capabilities, but also for the main combat operations. From this perspective, all Alliance member states that can contribute with force will have to transfer them to thousands of kilometers, in areas with poor road infrastructure and with undersized possibilities for logistic support.

The Ukrainian crisis of 2014 awakened NATO to the reality of a resurgent and assertive Russia. In addition, the conflict in Syria and the emergence of ISIS, the rise of terrorism, cyber-attacks, and other forms of hybrid war against the allies have, brought the potential conflict into the forefront of NATO. Moreover, it has become clear that the Alliance must be able to do everything from collective defense to the upper of full spectrum in crisis management, to project stability beyond its borders and to contribute to the fight against terrorism.

Today, the enhanced Forward Presence of four multinational battlegroups in Poland and the Baltic States (over 4,500 soldiers from across the Alliance) as well as a series of measures in the Black Sea region have led to a substantial increase in NATO presence on land, sea and air, thus enhancing the possibility of operating alongside national home defense forces.

In addition, the “Four 30s” initiative will enhance NATO's rapid response capability either to strengthen allied forces or for rapid military crisis intervention. It should be emphasized, however, that only the level of readiness of these forces is not enough. It needs to be complemented by a quick and adequate decision-making capability, intelligence gathering and early warning, contingency plans, training, and last but not least, the ability to physically project and sustain the forces at the disposal of NATO whenever the situation imposes it.

In this spirit, NATO is trying to remove all obstacles to the military movement in Europe and the North Atlantic area to support forces in a theater of operations. NATO also encourages allies to develop transport infrastructure to improve multi-national and collective access to support the crisis-response forces.

In addition, NATO cooperates with the EU and other actors to improve civil and commercial transport infrastructure, ensuring that it meets the standards imposed by national and potential EU investment (as part of the trans-European networks). The works is still ongoing at a multilateral level to ensure that NATO and the EU can work together in the combined geographic area as well as to project security and stability beyond their borders appropriately.

NATO calls on Russia to comply with the Interim Nuclear Forces Treaty

On 31 October 2018, the NATO-Russia Council met in Brussels to discuss the situation in and around Ukraine, issues related to military activities, mutual transparency and risk reduction, Afghanistan and hybrid challenges, and last but not least, the Treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF), a crucial document to Euro-Atlantic security.

As is well known, the NATO-Russia relationship has its origins at the end of the Cold War and has had an upward evolution, disrupted by two serious events, generated by Russia. The first was in 2008, the crisis in Georgia and the second, in 2014, the crisis in Ukraine.

In response to the second event, on 1 April 2014, NATO foreign ministers decided to suspend any practical cooperation with Russia, but the channels of communication remain open.

Thus, in 2016 and 2017, there were annually three meetings, dialogues that contributed to the transparency of the relations between the two sides. Even if the relationship is no longer practical, keeping the lines of communication open at the military level promotes the predictability and transparency of military activities. The Salisbury incident (March 14, 2018) was considered by all NATO allies a violation of international norms again, which, after intense consultations between allies and partner countries, at NATO headquarters and in their capitals, more than 50 Russian diplomats have been expelled from more than 25 nations. On March 27, 2018, the NATO Secretary General announced the removal of the accreditation of seven Russian Mission staff members to NATO, as well as the denial of 3 ongoing accreditations and the maximum reduction in the mission. Russia's reckless behaviour leads the Alliance to a dual approach: strong defence and openness to dialogue.

While there is a desire to continue the dialogue with Russia, the Alliance is responsible and determined to take those measures to ensure the safety and security of all Allies. From this perspective, NATO wants to assess the implications of Russia's destabilizing behaviour, given that the treaty, by failing to observe it, will have serious consequences on the security of all allies.

The main subject of the meeting was the observance of the INF Treaty, amid statements through the US to pull out of the deal.

A possible decision by the Trump's administration to get out of the treaty makes NATO, without being part of this treaty, focus on Russia's offensive military capabilities in Eastern Europe and especially on the Russian anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) systems between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Although Russia's military action might be not invoked, its ability to prevent NATO forces from counteracting such an invasion and hybrid action highlights Moscow's dominance over Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and even the East Mediterranean.

From this point of view, NATO's ability to discourage and counteract Russian action over a Member State beyond the level of hybrid action is questioned. A brief review of the treaty provisions will provide us with a wider understanding of the circumstances that triggered the American reaction to come out of the treaty.

The 1987 INF Treaty provided for the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres. In addition to the Convention on the Reduction of Nuclear Arsenals, the treaty also provides for the use on-site inspections for verification.

The INF ban originally applied only to US and Soviet forces, but the treaty's membership expanded in 1991 to include successor states of the former Soviet Union. Today, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine join Russia and the United States in the treaty's implementation. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan possessed INF facilities (SS-23 operating bases) but forgo treaty meetings with the consent of the other states-parties.

Several European countries, which are not part of the five participating States, have destroyed INF-banned missiles since the end of the Cold War. On May 31, 2002, the last possessor of intermediate-range missiles in eastern Europe, Bulgaria, completed their destruction.

The rights of States Parties to carry out on-site inspections under the treaty were ended on 31 May 2001, but the use of surveillance satellites for data collection continues.

In recent years, Russia has drawn attention to the possibility of withdrawing from the INF, arguing that the treaty unfairly prevents it from possessing weapons that its neighbours, such as China, are developing and fielding. Moscow also has suggested that the proposed U.S. deployment of strategic anti-ballistic missile systems in Europe might trigger its withdrawal from the accord.

However, the United States and Russia issued a statement on October 25, 2007 at the United Nations General Assembly, reaffirming their “support” for the treaty and calling on all other states to join them in renouncing the missiles banned by the treaty.

In July 2014, the US State Department discovered that Russia violated the agreement by illegally producing and testing a ground-launched cruise missile being under incidence of the treaty.

In October 2016, US concerns grew on the basis of reports that Russia was producing more rockets than needed solely for flight testing, which raised fears that Moscow is about to launch the new missile.

In March 2017, following an inspection of the Special Verification Commission (SVC), it was confirmed that Russia has a new missile named SSC-8 (probably 9M729, according to the Russian nomenclature).

Russia denies breaking the agreement and expressing its own concerns about Washington's compliance with the treaty by placing a US missile defence launch system in Europe that can also be used to fire cruise missiles prohibited by the INF treaty.

Under these circumstances, NATO members, at the time of the meeting, believe that the INF is essential for security in Europe and are very concerned about the potential risks if the treaty is cancelled.

Thus, NATO urged Russia to fully respect the nuclear arms treaty and, as expected, the Russian representative at the talks in Brussels assured that the new missile system did not break the agreement and confirmed that Russia would provide the required explanations.


Meeting of the Military Committee of the European Union (EUMC) at the Chiefs of Defence level


The European Union Military Committee met at the level of EU Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) on 24 and 25 October 2018. The meeting was chaired by General Mikhail Kostarakos, the permanent chairman of the committee.

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini addressed EU Chiefs of Defence on 25 October with a speech highlighting the progress made in implementing the EU's Global Strategy in the second year of execution. A credible European defence is essential for the internal and external security of the EU, which is why Europe must take greater responsibility for its own security. To this end, the EU new-created mechanisms PESCO (Permanent structured defence cooperation), EDIDP (European defence industrial development programme) and EDF (European Defence Fund) will ensure that European citizens and the EU, together they will face upcoming threats and challenges. Also, European defence cooperation has the role of making more effective defence costs at national level, avoiding duplication and linking defence industries to the European effort.

A separate topic of discussion at the meeting was the analysis of the evolutions of EU's CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) military operations and missions. The six EU military missions (Operation EUNAVFOR, Operation ATALANTA, Operation ALTHEA, EUTM SOMALIA, EUTM MALI and EUFOR / EUTM RCA) are part of a strategic effort to ensure security in the Sahel to the Horn of Africa in the Middle East major maritime routes and enabling Western Balkan countries to fully recover from the conflict and to increase their own defence and security capabilities.

EU-NATO cooperation has been an important part of the agenda.

Discussions attended by General Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, focused on areas such as military mobility, hybrid and cyber domains. Regarding military mobility, it has been reiterated that ensuring that the EU travels without syncope and timely, within and beyond the EU, will enhance the EU's readiness and response to crises both in the context of common security and defence policy missions and operations, and within national and multinational activities.

In addition, EU defence chiefs discussed cooperation with their counterparts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Serbia, Montenegro, Vietnam and the Republic of Korea. Discussions focused on partnership with the EU and participation in operations and missions.

In the discussions on EU Security and Defence Cooperation, EU Chiefs of Defence have endorsed the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) trial run as well as the proposals for the second phase of Permanent Structured Co-operation Cooperation - PESCO. At the end of the discussions on this chapter, the proposals on the EDF have been updated.

The analysis of the future EU command and control structure has been another subject of discussion. As part of its efforts to strengthen its security, defence and crisis management capabilities, the European Union decided in 2016 to establish a Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) at strategic military level for non-executive military missions. The structure is part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and works in a coordinated way with the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), which brings together civilian and military components. The Director General of the EU Military Staff (DG EUMS) is also Director of the CPCC and, as such, has taken over the operational direction of all non-executive military missions. He exercises command and control over the three EU Training Missions (EUTMs) in the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia. Analysis of the way in which this organization was structured and poor staffing, constituted elements of analysis to review the structure by the Council by the end of 2018 on the basis of a report by High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini.

The migration situation and EU involvement through military action was another subject of the debate. From this point of view, the focus was on strengthening border security through a broader Frontex mandate and the continuation of the naval military mission, EUNAVFOR Operation Sophia.

At the end of the meeting, a handover ceremony took place between General Mikhail Kostarakos (H Army) and the committee's new permanent chairman, General Claudio Graziano (IT Army).

General Claudio Graziano, former Chief of the Italian Defence General Staff, has a wealth of experience in leading the troops improved by attending international missions. Battalion commander in Mozambique - Operation UNOMOZ, military attaché in the US, commander of the Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB) within NATO ISAF VIII, and UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander for three years, from 2007 to 2010.



Belgium has decided to buy F-35 fighters

The Belgian government has announced that it would replace a fleet of ageing F-16 jets with the F-35 made by Lockheed Martin, rejecting rival offers to buy Eurofighter Typhoons or Rafales from the French group Dassault.

Belgium justified the decision, saying that the acquisition of the F-35 is the economic option from a financial point of view, and from an operational point of view it ensures the fulfilment of the commitments assumed within NATO.

Given that last year the European Union launched “Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence” or PESCO, aimed at unifying block defence strategies and rationalizing a fragmented approach to the purchase and development of military equipment, criticisms did not delay to appear.

Thus, French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Belgium's decision stating that “it goes against European interests.” In the same note, the European Airbus Consortium believes the decision is a lost opportunity to strengthen European industrial cooperation in times when the EU is called upon to increase its joint defence efforts.

Although most countries see no problem in allowing firms outside the EU to compete for PESCO contracts, France is vehement in its decision to limit their participation. At the same time, Washington warned that the exclusion of US companies could undermine NATO at a time when tensions are on the rise and new threats such as cyber-attacks are emerging.

In such a context, Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, said his country would be purchasing equipment from both US and European suppliers as it bolsters defence spending. And as a consequence of this decision, the French defence ministry announced that Belgium had confirmed an order for 442 Griffon and Jaguar armoured vehicles for around 1.5 billion euros.

The first PIRANHA V Armoured Wheeled Vehicles arrived in Romania


“The Romanian Army is one of the most important PIRANHA users in Europe.  We are very honoured by this contract award as it reflects the high confidence and satisfaction the Romanian Army has in our vehicles,” said Oliver Dürr, Managing Director of General Dynamics European Land Systems - Mowag.

Since 2006, the Romanian Armoured Forces has fielded variants of PIRANHA vehicles which have been deployed in various missions in-country and abroad, demonstrating its reliability and performance.

Part of the Romanian Army Plan for upgrade its fleet of armoured vehicles in an advanced stage of wear and tear, the contract signed with General Dynamics European Land Systems for 227 PIRANHA V armoured vehicles in six different configurations has a value exceeding $ 1 billion.

Modern vehicles PIRANHA 5 will be produced in Romania as part of a strategic cooperation and technology transfer project between General Dynamics European Land Systems - Mowag and the Romanian company Uzina Mecanică Bucureşti (UMB).

Among the NATO countries in advanced discussions to buy this type of armoured vehicle are Spain, for a number of 448 in the first phase of a contract of 1000 vehicles, and Denmark for a number of 309 PIRANHA V.