Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has “absolutely endangered” the NATO alliance and its member states, an official from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) told reporters on Wednesday, a month after Putin’s invasion of Russia. Ukraine.
The official called Putin “reckless” and said he and his inner circle “don’t care about human lives”.
“From Russia, we realize that Putin and his entourage are absolutely reckless people. They don’t care about human lives. They lie in public to hide their military operations. Putin has totally changed his speech to the West, and he has a deep hatred of our societies, of our values, so we really judge that he is dangerous and that the alliance is in absolute jeopardy,” the official said on Wednesday.
SHAPE is the headquarters of NATO alliance military operations in Europe. It is based in Brussels, Belgium. Two SHAPE officials briefed reporters on NATO’s military stance and how they are responding to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The briefing comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s trip to NATO headquarters in Brussels to meet with the leaders of NATO countries as the crisis in Ukraine continues.
The war has created a “new reality” for NATO allies, another SHAPE official said, echoing Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s words at a news conference earlier Wednesday.
“You just listened to the SecGen press and he said it’s a new reality and we need to reset our defenses and our deterrent attitude,” said the second SHAPE official. “This is a permanent and profound change in the European security environment, and SecGen has said the same.”
The officials said it is too early to predict how NATO will permanently shift its military dominance over Europe because of Putin’s actions, but they spoke about how attitudes have changed so far to strengthen the eastern flank, where NATO allied countries bordering Ukraine, and to ensure that they are prepared for any scenario that the war in Ukraine could cause for NATO countries.
Since the NATO Response Force was activated for the first time in NATO history, “40,000 troops” in NATO allied countries along the eastern flank are now working for the “collective security, collective defense” of all NATO countries, not just their own country. to land. There are eight battle groups, one in each country on the eastern flank, that are part of this NATO Response Force activation, the second SHAPE official said.
This is a “tenfold increase” from what was before the invasion of Ukraine, the official added.
“In the land domain, in land forces, there are now 40,000 troops in those eight battle groups, which are in each country along the eastern flank, that’s a tenfold increase from what there was before the invasion by Russia,” the statement said. second SHAPE officer.
There are “more than 100 planes” in the sky, the official said.
“We always do what we call air policing,” the official said, but now, after the invasion has begun, they have eight planes in the air to provide the alliance’s “24/7 airborne presence on the eastern flank.”
In the waters around NATO-allied countries, the alliance has “25 ships at any time patrolling the waters and providing 360-degree deterrence,” the official said.
“In addition, there are normally about 150 ships belonging to NATO countries that also navigate the waters and can bend back and forth under NATO command and control,” the official added.
While it’s too early to say what the permanent changes will be in the attitude of NATO military forces as a result of Putin’s invasion, the official said the armed forces’ current attitude is “minimal” a good “starting point” of what things might look like in the long run. term.
“We are preparing for the worst but are doing everything we can to prevent the worst from happening,” the first official said.