Defense ministers of NATO, the North Atlantic Trade Organization, will, on Thursday, meet over a new master plan to defend against potential Russian attack on multiple fronts, in a bid to deter Moscow despite NATO’s new focus on China, officials said.
The strategy aims to prepare for any simultaneous attack in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, possibly including nuclear weapons, hacking of computer networks or from space.
Russia denies any plans for war, and NATO officials and diplomats agree that no such attack is imminent.
But U.S. officials and NATO diplomats say the “Concept for Deterrence and Defence in the Euro-Atlantic Area” – and its strategic implementation plan – is needed as Russia develops advanced weapon systems and deploys troops and equipment closer to allied borders.
“If you have that kind of major conflict, it will require activity across the entire area of operations,” said a senior U.S. government official. “Various things could happen at the same time, and that really requires holistic planning.”
Russia had in May deployed some 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine, the highest number since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, according to Western officials. In September, Russia used new combat robots in large military drills with its ex-Soviet ally Belarus that have alarmed Baltic allies.
In 2018, Russia had unveiled nuclear-capable hypersonic cruise missiles that could evade early-warning systems, upgraded or replaced Soviet military space systems to potentially attack satellites in orbit, developed artificial intelligence-based technologies to disrupt allied command systems – developing “super weapons” indeed.
NATO allies also seek to boost their presence in the Indo-Pacific and counter China’s rising military power, deploying more ships to keep open sea routes.
“The assumption up until now, has been that Russia is a nuisance, but it’s not an imminent threat. But the Russians are doing some worrying things, they’re practicing with robotics and hypersonic cruise missiles could be very disruptive indeed,” Jamie Shea, NATO’s deputy assistant secretary for Emerging Security Challenges, said.