VICE News Meets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Excerpt from ‘The Russians Are Coming’) – Published on Aug 19, 2015



In the wake of events in Ukraine, NATO has turned its attention towards countries that border the Russian Federation — attempting to boost its quick-response capabilities in Europe. In September, the alliance agreed to create a 5,000-strong rapid reaction Spearhead Force, which will be capable of deploying across the continent within 48-hours of a military incursion. VICE News joined several thousand NATO troops in western Poland, for the first deployment test of the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.”

According to the premise of the exercise, Poland and the Baltics were under threat from the fictional state of “Bothnia” — a master of conventional and hybrid warfare. NATO forces had been ordered to deploy, and quickly, to Poland.

During the deployment test, NATO’s top diplomat Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg flew in to watch its progress. He told VICE News that NATO was undertaking “the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.”

While in Poland, VICE News filmed with non-governmental paramilitary groups, which are training young Polish people to defend their towns and cities in the event of a foreign-backed assault. Participation in paramilitaries has reportedly increased since Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula.

We also traveled north, to visit the border that Poland shares with the heavily armed Russian territory of Kaliningrad. This spring, Poland built six high-tech watchtowers along the 125-mile border.

In this excerpt from ‘The Russians Are Coming: NATO’s Frontier,’ VICE News travels to Poland to speak with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about Russian threats in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

Watch “The Russians Are Coming: NATO’s Frontier” – http://bit.ly/1P3lvYv

Read “Military Confrontation Between NATO and Russia Is Increasingly Likely, Warns New Report” – http://bit.ly/1JqiIdF

The Russians Are Coming: NATO’s Frontier – Vice News Published on Jul 24, 2015


In the wake of events in Ukraine, NATO has turned its attention towards countries that border the Russian Federation — attempting to boost its quick-response capabilities in Europe. In September, the alliance agreed to create a 5,000-strong rapid reaction Spearhead Force, which will be capable of deploying across the continent within 48-hours of a military incursion. VICE News joined several thousand NATO troops in western Poland, for the first deployment test of the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.”

According to the premise of the exercise, Poland and the Baltics were under threat from the fictional state of “Bothnia” — a master of conventional and hybrid warfare. NATO forces had been ordered to deploy, and quickly, to Poland.

During the deployment test, NATO’s top diplomat Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg flew in to watch its progress. He told VICE News that NATO was undertaking “the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.”

While in Poland, VICE News filmed with non-governmental paramilitary groups, which are training young Polish people to defend their towns and cities in the event of a foreign-backed assault. Participation in paramilitaries has reportedly increased since Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula.

We also traveled north, to visit the border that Poland shares with the heavily armed Russian territory of Kaliningrad. This spring, Poland built six high-tech watchtowers along the 125-mile border.

Watch “The Russians Are Coming: Lithuania’s Operation Lightning Strike” – http://bit.ly/1RzVIHw

Pentagon chief to push U.S. allies to ditch ‘Cold War playbook – BY PHIL STEWART Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:04am EDT


 U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will urge NATO allies to “dispose of the Cold War playbook” during a trip to Europe this week, as the alliance adapts to a new kind of threat from Russia in the east and Islamic State to the south, U.S. officials said.
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Putin’s Army Built to Reassert Russian Influence in a Modern World – By Thomas K. Grose March 11, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EDT


Moscow’s hybrid force eschews full-scale assaults for subtler tactics intended to destabilize neighbors and splinter the NATO alliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier to mark the Defender of the Fatheland Day on Feb. 23, 2015, in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military tactics are not to be trifled with.

LONDON — In 2008, Russian troops invaded the neighboring country of Georgia and helped two rebellious provinces break away from the republic. While that military adventure was, in Moscow’s eyes, a success, it also made clear to Russian authorities that their armed forces were hobbled by aging equipment and a clunky chain of command designed to fight past wars. In the seven years since, Moscow has poured enormous amounts of money into its military while remolding it into a more modern, flexible and scalable force.

It’s now ideally suited to fight so-called hybrid, or asymmetric, wars that eschew full-scale assaults for sleight-of-hand tactics, including fomenting insurgencies, covert and special-operations measures, terrorism, cyberattacks and propaganda. And while that transformation remains a work in progress, the new-model Russian army is already being put into action with the goal of splintering NATO, thus allowing Moscow to destabilize and regain control over many of its Eastern European neighbors, Russia analysts say. Ultimately, they add, the post-communist Russia of President Vladimir Putin, who has led the country with an iron grip for 15 years, hopes to remake itself into a global superpower.

“Do not underestimate their military capabilities,” says Igor Sutyagin, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London defense think tank. “It would be difficult for them to sustain a confrontation well into the long term, but they have enough resources to create huge problems. Russia’s overall objective is changing the world order; it wants to have its seat back at the world table.” And, he says, it believes the best way to do that is to undermine the NATO alliance and make the U.S. and Western Europe “wary of challenging Russia in its sphere of influence.”

A new luxury penthouse development at One Hyde Park is located next to The Hyde Park Hotel in Knightsbridge on April 16, 2014, in London.

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Russia used hybrid war tactics a year ago when it annexed Crimea from neighboring Ukraine and began supporting Russian-speaking separatists in Donbass, in eastern Ukraine. That conflict has shown that “Russia does not need to invade (a neighboring country) to achieve the objective of returning it to Moscow’s sphere of influence,” notes Keir Giles, a Russia and international security expert at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The main Russian force remained on its side of the border. “It was used as a political tool, not a military tool.”

A shaky cease-fire is now in effect in Ukraine, but it’s widely anticipated that the Kremlin will next turn its attention to the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which were once annexed by the Soviet Union. Latvia shares a long border with Russia, and 40 percent of its people are Russian-speaking.

Article continues:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/11/vladimir-putins-army-built-to-reassert-russian-influence-in-a-modern-world?int=a14709

The French Ask: Should We Be Building Warships For Russia? – by ELEANOR BEARDSLEY May 13, 2014 3:05 AM ET


The Vladivostok warship, a Mistral class LHD amphibious vessel ordered by Russia to the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France on Friday. The Vladivostok warship is one of two navy ships ordered to France by the Russian army.

The Vladivostok warship, a Mistral class LHD amphibious vessel ordered by Russia to the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France on Friday. The Vladivostok warship is one of two navy ships ordered to France by the Russian army.

Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images

French President Francois Hollande says that for now, France intends to go through with a deal to build two warships for the Russian navy. The first of the Mistral-class assault vessels is supposed to be delivered in October.

The $1.6 billion deal is the biggest sale to Russia ever by a NATO country. And three years ago, when the contract was signed, French officials hailed it as a sign that Moscow should be considered a partner, not an enemy. Still, there were critics among NATO allies even then.

Today, in light of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the warship sale is hugely controversial — even in France.

The French foreign minister is in Washington Tuesday and might face pressure to suspend the sale.

And when asked on a radio talk show recently whether France should suspend the sale, parliament member Bruno Le Maire responded: “Absolutely.”

“It’s the only way to show Vladimir Putin we’re serious,” he said. “Putin is playing on Europe’s divisions and hesitations.”

Le Maire did not want to speak to NPR. Neither did other several other politicians approached for interviews.

That’s because it’s a sensitive issue, says Etienne de Durand, a defense expert at the French Institute for International Relations.

“[There’s] a lot of money involved, possibly also jobs at stake, so of course it’s a sensitive issue,” he says.

De durand says the warships are an easy target for critics because they’re so visible. But there are other European countries with more at stake in Russia than France, he says. Germany because of the industrial and energy links; Britain because of all the Russian money London manages.

One of the ships is named the Vladivostok, after the Far Eastern Russian city. The other ship is the Sevastopol — which is the port and naval base in Crimea, which Russia just annexed from Ukraine.

These helicopter assault ships can serve as hospitals or military command centers, with the capacity to carry 16 attack helicopters, 40 tanks and up to 600 troops.

Article continues:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/05/13/311907827/europe-could-tighten-screws-on-russia-but-it-doesnt-why

After Russian moves in Ukraine, Eastern Europe shudders, NATO to increase presence – By Griff Witte, Published: April 18


Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at Apr 19, 2014 2.29

LONDON — For decades, NATO has expanded inexorably outward, taking on new members and new missions that have carried it far beyond its original mandate in Western Europe and deep into the former Soviet sphere.

But Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has sent shivers down the spines of Eastern European countries from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south. NATO’s newest members have been left feeling vulnerable and wondering whether the world’s most powerful military alliance is truly committed to their defense.

Concerns have been especially acute in the three Baltic nations that were once part of the Soviet empire and now fear that they could be next on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hit list.

NATO has long resisted placing much of a footprint in the Baltics, worried that doing so would jeopardize ever-precarious cooperation with Moscow.

Now that that cooperation is on life support, NATO announced this week that it plans to substantially boost its air, sea and ground presence in the Baltic states.

After meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said in an interview with Washington Post editors Friday that he expected a plan to dispatch U.S. ground troops to Poland, and likely the Baltics, to be announced next week.

The decision has been made on a political level, and military planners are working out details, Siemoniak said.

A Pentagon spokesman said in a statement Friday that the United States is “considering a range of additional measures” to bolster air, maritime and ground readiness in Europe. “Some of those activities will be pursued bilaterally with individual NATO nations. Some will be pursued through the Alliance itself. All of them will be rotational in nature,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

NATO has been deliberately vague about plans for the positioning of its ground forces in Eastern Europe, a strategy that is in part intended to keep Moscow guessing but also reflects the lingering divisions within NATO over how far to go in provoking the Russian bear.

Like Ukraine, the three Baltic nations — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — have significant Russian-speaking populations, people who Putin has suggested should, by all rights, be living in Russia. But unlike Ukraine, those three nations joined NATO in 2004.

The decision to increase the NATO presence has brought some relief in the lightly defended Baltics, but also questions about why NATO did not act earlier to try to deter Russia with a more robust show of strength on its eastern flank.

“Of course, we always wanted to see a more permanent presence from our NATO allies here. But before, it was not considered so urgent,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in an interview. “Now, the circumstances have changed.”

Paet said that as part of NATO’s renewed commitment to the Baltics, NATO warplanes would, for the first time, regularly police the skies from an Estonian air base. Other measures are still under discussion, he said, including the stationing of U.S. ground forces in his country — a development that Paet said he would welcome.

NATO is a mutual defense organization, meaning that an attack on one nation is considered an attack on all. But for years after the tiny Baltic nations joined the alliance, NATO stalled in developing plans for how to defend its newest members. The alliance also avoided training exercises in the Baltics, out of deference to Putin’s complaints that NATO was reaching too far into his orbit.

Article continues:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/after-russian-moves-in-ukraine-eastern-europe-shudders-nato-to-increase-presence/2014/04/18/7ab367c0-2e9d-47be-981a-a719ec00fe27_story.html?hpid=z1Ernesto Londoño contributed to this report.