Decision of NATO Warsaw Summit sends strong signal to Russia

  • 2016-07-12
  • BNS/LETA/TBT Staff/Riga/Vilnius

The decision made during the NATO Warsaw Summit sends a clear message to Russia, saying “Not one step closer!” said Latvian MEP Artis Pabriks (Unity) in an interview with the Latvian public television on Monday.

He stated that NATO has returned to its roots with this decision, showing that Article 5 is a reality.

The MEP feels that Latvia has reached to a historic turning point with this decision since a few years ago nobody believed that such support to the region was likely.

Russian President Vladimir Putin convinced all NATO member nations of his country’s threat, Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite said following a closed dinner with top officials of NATO members in Warsaw on Friday.

"Putin worked hard to persuade everyone, therefore, I am very happy to see all countries understand unanimously and clearly what Russia is doing now, its conduct in Ukraine, and its conduct worldwide, as well as its conduct at our borders," Grybauskaite told Warsaw press on Saturday.

According to the president, "the Baltic states almost didn't have to talk" about Russian threats.

Regarding a possible Russian response to NATO’s decision, Pabriks said that the country would use it as an excuse for its escalations and point to NATO as the pasty responsible for heightening the situation. Still, Russia had to be aware that NATO was capable of taking such measures.

Janis Sarts, the director of the Riga-based NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence, believes that Russian rhetoric will intensify, but the summit’s decision has decreased the threat of escalating tension. He voiced his expectations in an interview with commercial LNT television on Monday.

Sarts said that a heated debate is likely at this week’s NATO-Russia council meeting, while noting that open dialogue is essential. Aggravated rhetoric may also be expected of Russian officials, but these discussions are based on the explanation of positions rather than having their basis in partnership, he explained.

"Of course, there will be aggravation of rhetoric from Russia, but, in my opinion, deployment of the four battalions in the Baltic States and Poland rather reduces the possibility of escalation of tension than increases it," the director stated.

According to Sarts, if NATO has opted not to respond to Russia’s activities near the Baltic and Polish borders, the nation might have incorrectly presumed that the Alliance was neutral to its actions, and Russia might have commenced new operations. The decisions made during the NATO Warsaw Summit will serve as a visible gesture that Article 5 is in force and the Allies are prepared to defend other member states, he said.

Sarts emphasised that Russia has rather good military analysts who will be able to correctly translate the NATO decision, noting that NATO does not pose threat to Russia, but at the same time, discouraging Russia from new ventures.

NATO leaders at the Summit in Warsaw on Friday approved the deployment of four battalions to the Baltic nations and Poland as part of its plan to counter the threat posed by Russia. The battalions will be "robust," multinational, and deployed next year on a rotational basis, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced.

Canada will lead the battalion in Latvia and is expected to contribute approximately 450 troops to the battalion-sized unit of some 1,000 allied soldiers. The international battalion in Lithuania, which is expected to be stationed in the country's territory next year, will be led by Germany, with contributions from the Benelux nations, Norway, and France. The formation of the battalion in Estonia will be headed by the United Kingdom, and in Poland by the United States.

In Poland, the United States will station a brigade of about 4,000 troops on bilateral grounds.