What is NATO doing in the Face of New Russian Assertiveness?

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NATO, following the Ukrainian crisis, witnessed new signs of an assertive Russia moving closer to its borders, firstly in the northern flank. As a result, it has become necessary to review the Alliance’s defense position. The first steps to counter the Russian assertion were taken at NATO’s 2015 Wales Summit. From NATO’s perspective there have been two basic aims: Initially, there was an urgent need to send a clear message to Russia to ensure that Moscow would by no means dare to launch a hybrid war in the Baltics or in Central-Eastern Europe. NATO’s second concern was associated with Russia’s new plans whereby Russia would introduce and add prospective de-escalatory nuclear strikes within its overall measures against NATO’s forces in Europe. Currently, Russia’s new assertiveness along NATO’s Northern and Southern flanks is making the Alliance members nervous and as a result forcing the Alliance to take action to re-assure its member states. NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Alexandar Vershbow, at the latest Munich Security Conference, made a reference to the important issue of how the Alliance should be making efforts to deter possible Russian aggression towards its allies. One can find signs as to how NATO aims to balance its security priorities in due course in Vershbow’s speech at the conference. As stated by Vershbow, NATO, since the Wales Summit, has devoted its utmost attention to dealing with the rising Russian assertiveness around the Alliance’s Northern and Central-Eastern vicinity. While implementing reassurance measures on behalf of its Northern and Eastern members, NATO has attached great importance to avoiding action that would provoke Moscow. Alliance officials, for example Vershbow, have asserted that these measures are in full compliance with the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, hence defensive in character only. What is more important, according to NATO officials, is that these newly introduced procurements and deployments of both manpower and equipment fall short when it comes to providing the Alliance with the means to launch a surprise attack against Russia.





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