NATO chief due in Turkey amid tensions with Russia

As the outcome of the Warsaw summit suggests increased action against Russia in the Baltics, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is due to arrive in Turkey after visiting Georgia.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

The NATO head emphasized they would expand their presence in the Black Sea region in line with a decision taken during the alliance's Warsaw summit in July.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will arrive in Turkey on Thursday following his two-day visit to Georgia.

After meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Stoltenberg said they discussed the increasing NATO presence in the Black Sea Region, one of decisions taken at Warsaw Summit in July.

The Warsaw Summit, which took place 61 years after the creation of the Warsaw Pact - a collective defence treaty between the USSR and Soviet satellite states signed in the Polish capital in 1955 - was considered to be the most important summit dealing with NATO-Russia tensions since end of the Cold War.

The outcome of the Warsaw summit suggests that three regional flashpoints could be possible confrontation lines between NATO and Russia - namely the Baltics, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Black Sea.  

Georgia's membership to NATO was also on the table, according to Stoltenberg, who said Georgia could become a member after completing the necessary reforms. 

Russia strongly opposes the merging of close ties between Georgia and NATO. Georgia moved closer to the bloc following a period of worsening relations with Russia, which occupied the Georgian enclaves Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008. 

NATO member states spearheaded by the US view Russian military pressure on Georgia and Ukraine as threats. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Kiev in 2014 and has supported pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine ever since. 

Additionally, repeated fly-bys by Russian fighter jets in the Black Sea and Baltic region, as well as Russian military engagement in Syria, are a cause for concern.

“NATO has decided to increase our presence in the Black Sea. We will further step up our presence in the region and also in the Black Sea itself,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Georgia.

"We have seen an increased Russian presence in the Black Sea region and we have also seen a substantial military buildup in Crimea by Russia.”

Another key news items of the Warsaw Summit was the announcement of NATO combat battalion deployments to Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.The battalions -- which are planned to be deployed starting from the beginning of 2017- will be fielded by the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada.

The US has also announced its plan to deploy an additional 3,500 troops to Eastern Europe on a rotational basis. These moves by the Atlantic bloc have alarmed Moscow, which is also bolstering its troops on its Western front.

NATO has denied seeking to provoke Russia.

Underlining NATO presence had more than doubled on its doorstep in recent months, Russia says such moves by its “Western colleagues” lead to erosion of the strategic stability in Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to use “all necessary actions to neutralise potential threats”.

TRTWorld, TRTWorld and agencies