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Under NATO’s Readiness Action Plan, approved at the Wales Summit in September 2014, and the United States’ European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), the United States and its European allies are planning to allocate more than $4 billion to (1) add a U. Brigade Combat Team to the two it already has stationed in Europe, along with an airborne brigade, and (2) pre-position permanent equipment for another combat brigade.At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, NATO leaders officially approved the continuous rotational deployment of four multinational battalions (about 4,000 troops) to the Baltic states and Poland to maintain a persistent forward presence—and some of these units have already arrived in Poland to take up their positions.
From NATO’s vantage point, Russia poses a serious military threat to its eastern flank—and to Euro-Atlantic security more broadly—for three reasons.These conflicting perceptions have contributed to a lack of trust, a deteriorating security environment, and the prospect of a much more unstable and dangerous adversarial relationship between the West and Russia for many years to come. S-Russian relationship on a more positive trajectory. But how it plays out—whether it leads to some semblance of stability or conflict—cannot be predicted.Russia is a major power facing a near-certain, long-term decline.In the summer of 2015, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U. General Martin Dempsey, and his successor, General Joseph Dunford, both described Russia as the greatest threat to U. Russian forces have staged unannounced (“snap”) exercises simulating the use of nuclear weapons in an invasion of the Baltic region.The Russian military has deployed additional missile and air defense assets and, most recently, nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad.Moscow has also threatened a military response if Sweden or Finland decides to join NATO; according to NATO’s secretary-general, Russian exercises have included simulated nuclear strikes against Sweden.
Reported changes in the Russian military doctrine suggest that the Kremlin plans on the first use of nuclear weapons in the early stages of a conflict with NATO (known as “escalate to de-escalate”) to prevent escalation to a larger-scale conventional war that Moscow believes NATO would ultimately win.
Third, the Kremlin has been conducting a far more aggressive, anti-Western foreign policy, significantly ratcheting up provocative military maneuvers near NATO members’ borders with Russia, intimating nuclear threats, and deploying nuclear-capable missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
As a result, there is a growing perception in the West that Russia has reemerged as a revanchist, neo-imperialist, expansionist, and hostile power bent on dismantling the post–Cold War European security system and dividing the continent into spheres of influence.
NATO and Russia, through increased dialogue, restraint, and possibly even cooperation, need to find ways to climb down the escalatory ladder. presidential campaign, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, called Russia the United States’ number one geopolitical foe—a claim that was roundly criticized by most experts. What happened to bring about such a dramatic change in the U. Russian intelligence operatives abducted an Estonian intelligence officer from Estonian territory in 2014.
If Russia remains intransigent and continues its provocative behavior, the United States and its allies will have to expand and accelerate their planned defense improvements on NATO’s eastern front, as well take additional diplomatic and economic measures to respond to Russian behavior. But only two years later, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its aggression in eastern Ukraine precipitated a fundamental change in Western perceptions of the Russian military threat to NATO. Russian aircraft have conducted frequent intrusions into the air space of NATO countries and harassed U. and NATO ships and aircraft operating in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.
With NATO’s expansion, the alliance’s border with Russia has shifted much closer to the Russian heartland.