Stoltenberg: NATO not to maintain new arms race with Russia

NATO chief denies that Euro-Atlantic alliance would not resume Cold War style arms race with Russia, but only boosts its defence capabilities in order to reassure security of its member states neighbouring with Moscow

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg stated on Wednesday that the Alliance was not eager to be dragged into a new arms race with Russia, which was carried out during the Cold War.

Stoltenberg said the Euro-Atlantic Alliance does not want to get dragged into an arms race with Russia, but it would only resume to enhance defence capabilities that required for the collective security of its member countries.

"We do not seek confrontation, NATO will not be dragged into an arms race, but we must keep our countries safe," the Alliance chief told reporters after a NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

The NATO defence ministers at the meeting endorsed to augment the strength of NATO's rapid response force by increasing the numbers of military personnel from 13,000 to 40,000, including a 5,000-strong "spearhead" force.

"We also agreed to speed up our political and military decision-making ... [giving] the supreme commander the authority to alert, stage and prepare troops," Stoltenberg said by adding that while they are waiting for the necessary political approval to deploy those service men.

NATO diplomatic sources suggested that the proposed decision could be implemented within hours on the ground.

The NATO ministerial meeting just came one week after the Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would add 40 missiles to its nuclear arsenal.

The Kremlin accused NATO of militarising the member countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltics neighbouring with Russia, hereby, changing the strategic power balance on its borders.

"NATO is approaching Russia's border and makes actions to change the strategic power balances, which disturb Russia," the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week.

Peskov stated that Russia has been seeking the ways for protecting its security and interests in the coterminous Eastern Europe which was once regarded as a “Russian backyard” by Moscow.

Stoltenberg reiterated NATO’s hardline stance towards the Ukraine crisis and underlined again that the annexation of Crimea was "an act of aggression" by Moscow.

"Russia continues to send troops, forces and supplies into eastern Ukraine. There is no doubt that Russia is responsible for aggressive actions in Europe,"  he said during the preamble speech to the meeting.

The relations between NATO and Russia have been at odds since Moscow seized Crimea and allegedly supported separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

But Russia denies allegations and accusations made by the NATO bloc and says the Kremlin has been committing the Minsk peace accord regarding the Ukrainian crisis which caused the death of almost 6,450 people in one year.

The West has been striving to dissuade Russia from its military presence by through counterbalancing Moscow with its increased military presence towards the edge of Russian borders where the constituent states of the former Soviet Union had currently become members in the Euro-Atlantic alliance.

The NATO member countries in Eastern Europe have warmly welcomed a US-led arms deployment on their soils as the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed that the Pentagon will deploy tanks and heavy artilaries near the Russian borders when he visited the Estonian capital Tallinn on Tuesday.  

Carter told reporters with the Baltic defence chiefs in Tallinn that several countries in Eastern Europe, including Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia as well as Bulgaria, Romania and Poland had agreed to deploy US-led NATO arms into their soils.

The Kremlin has vehemently reacted to Washington’s drive to deploy NATO member states near its borders and announced that the proposed US move would be the most dangerous act since the Cold War to which it could immediately retaliated by beefing up its own forces.

Russian leadership regarded the US military drives as a breach to the 1997 Founding Act with NATO which bans the permanent deployment of significant forces and military equipments in the states formerly placed under the security umbrella of Warsaw Pact.

However, Stoltenberg stated that the NATO’s military deployment would be rotational and temporarily and aimed to eliminate defence vulnerabilities of its member states in Eastern Europe where the regional governments have long been worrying over whether the Kremlin will target themselves next in the wake of Ukraine conflicts.


TRTWorld and agencies