On March 28, the European Union unveiled a plan to enhance NATO defense capabilities, particularly in view of increasing Russian aggression. The plan, which envisions the establishment of a European Defense Union by the year 2025, is aimed at easing current restrictions on the deployment of troops and the movement of military materiel across Europe, in the same way that the Schengen Area agreement has enabled passport-free travel between 26 states, most of which belong to the EU.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday singled out Germany for failing to meet a defense spending target of 2 percent of GDP agreed upon between members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting, Trump said “some friends and enemies” had “taken advantage” of the US “on trade and on military.”
Russian-trained mercenaries are helping establishment a paramilitary unit serving the Serb separatist leader in Bosnia, it was reported in Sarajevo on Friday.
The report on the Žurnal news site, which was confirmed by the Bosnian security minister, comes at a time of mounting western anxiety about Russian efforts to destabilise the Balkans and resist Nato enlargement in the region.
On Tuesday, Milorad Dodik, the hardline leader of the Serb half of Bosnia, staged a military parade in Banja Luka in defiance of a ruling by the country’s constitutional court.
The Žurnal report said that a militia called “Serbian Honour” – which it said had been trained in a Russian-funded “humanitarian centre” in Serbia – was in the process of setting up a paramilitary group to be used against Dodik’s opponents.
Is Turkey still a reliable ally? After repeated endorsements by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of policies inimical to U.S. interests, the answer seems to be not really.
Erdogan recently announced he will seek United Nations support to annul President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In addition, the Turkish Ministry of Justice has issued warrants for the arrest of two American Turkey specialists, in effect placing a bounty of $800,000 on their heads.
Additionally, there is the somewhat comical furor in Turkey over the adoption by Turkish entrepreneurs of the American “Black Friday” sales concept. Several Turkish businesses, which had attempted to increase sales by borrowing the U.S. “Black Friday” market lure, were attacked by devout Muslims who accused store owners of disrespecting Islam’s day of prayer. The perceived insult to Islam’s Friday Prayer obligation is just another example of a widening antipathy towards the U.S.
NATO has little confidence in its ability to counter a Russian attack against eastern European members, according to a leaked internal document.
German newspaper Der Spiegel published excerpts from NATO’s “Progress Report on the Strengthened Deterrence and Defense Capability of the Alliance” in its Saturday edition. The report outlines the alliance’s ability to “react rapidly and – if necessary – sustainably” in the event of a crisis.
The report concludes that smaller command structures and logistical difficulties puts the alliance at a disadvantage if Russia makes a move on countries such as Poland, Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania.
US and NATO alliance officials said they are concerned about reports that troops on NATO’s frontlines in the Baltic states and Poland have been personally confronted by strangers who possess personal details about them.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Russia is using advanced surveillance techniques, including drones and covert antennas, to pull data from smartphones being used by soldiers deployed as part of the alliance’s “enhanced Forward Presence” (eFP) in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The WSJ story includes personal accounts of military personnel being approached in public by a person they believed was a Russian agent conveying personal details about them for purposes of intimidation.
Traditionally, any kind of weapon in Russia, including a tank, a pistol or an aircraft, is given an official alphabetic or alphanumeric designation.
But in everyday life, the country’s designers and the military refer to Russian weaponry by official and unofficial nicknames, something that is also the case with NATO representatives.
In this vein, it is worth pointing to a systemic approach related to the nicknames of some kinds of weapons.
While delivering a speech at the unveiling of the Article 5 and Berlin Wall memorial at the new NATO HQ, Trump was reported to be insulting allies with blunt messages on their lack of defence spending, as well as undermining the very foundation of the alliance by failing to explicitly mention the US commitment to Article 5.
The icing on the cake was when Trump brutally shoved his way to the front of the family photo.
However, a fair assessment can only be made by looking at both political and military developments in conjunction to the meeting.
President Trump blasted NATO allies for not paying their fair share at a memorial event in Brussels today to honor the alliance’s post-9/11 Article 5 pledge and the end of the Cold War.
Leaders of NATO’s 28 member nations were present at the ceremony to unveil the memorial to symbolize the strength of the alliance: a piece of the Berlin Wall and twisted steel recovered from the north tower of the World Trade Center.
🇩🇪Germany ➡️ Need to pay 2% GDP annually for NATO defence. They’re €22bn short, they ain’t got no money 😫😰
€20bn for refugees? No probs! 😂💰 pic.twitter.com/201NFGQK28
— Tommy Robinson (@TRobinsonNewEra) May 25, 2017
— Shannon 🇺🇸🌹 (@GeorgiaDirtRoad) May 25, 2017
“I want to state very clearly, that even if such a decision is made, it will not mean that any military activity that Germany currently carries out, for instance, AWACS surveillance, will be expanded or something like that,” Merkel emphatically declared. Germany only contributed approximately 150 troops to the anti-ISIS mission to train, advise, and assist forces according to an August 2016 Congressional Research Service report.
Trump wrote, “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
He added, “Nevertheless, Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”
Stark differences between Trump and Merkel on everything from trade to immigration were in full view during an icy first meeting at the White House Friday.
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, has said that Russian cyberattacks on NATO member states could be deemed an act of war and trigger the principle of the military alliance’s collective defense. Bradshaw said reports of Russian interference in American and European elections and Russian international disinformation campaign could lead alliance leaders to broaden the definition of an “attack.” European intelligence agencies have said that Russia’s successful interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election has emboldened Moscow to replicated in Europe the methods it used in the U.S. There is already evidence that Russia has launched a hacking and disinformation campaign aiming to help far-right, ethno-nationalist, and populist politicians win the coming elections in France, the Netherlands, and Germany.
Does a country involved in financing Islamic terrorism deserve to be invited to join the world’s biggest military alliance, and receive all the perks that come with it? Many may argue this is the case with the small Balkan state of Montenegro, whose NATO membership will soon be taken up for consideration by the U.S. Senate.
NATO is the world’s most important military alliance, a noble one-for-all and all-for one pact among 28 countries of the free world that has kept Russia and other bad actors at bay in the postwar era.
All member countries, rich and poor, committed to contributing their share to maintain NATO’s potency, but most of the 28 are laggards and a handful are deadbeats, contributing a pittance to their international responsibilities. Canada is one of those deadbeats, a particular embarrassment given that Canada is an affluent country and a founder of NATO.
The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö made it clear to CNBC last week that while Russia’s actions involving Crimea must come to a peaceful resolution, the most important issues facing Europe right now are terrorism and migration. Despite Finland pledging $55 Million Euros to NATO, Niinistö also made it clear that European nations need to ultimately be responsible for their own security.