NATO ministers approve new multinational force for Eastern Europe

BRUSSELS -- NATO defence ministers on Wednesday approved a new multinational force to beef up defences of frontline alliance members most at risk from Russia, the alliance's secretary general announced.

See Full Article

Jens Stoltenberg said the new unit approved by the United States and NATO's 27 other members will be multinational and rotate in and out of Eastern European member states rather than being based there. He said military planners will decide on its composition this spring.

The new force "will be multinational to make clear that an attack against one ally is any attack against all allies and that the alliance as a whole will respond," Stoltenberg told a news conference following the first session of the two-day defence ministers' meeting.

Getting firm commitments, or even deciding how many NATO troops should be rotated eastward, may take time, however. Douglas Lute, U.S. ambassador to NATO, said he expected ministers this week to agree on "a framework" but that actual force levels will probably be hammered out only after consultations with NATO's supreme commander in Europe, U.S. Force Gen. Philip Breedlove.

One NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, told The Associated Press one proposal being considered calls for the creation of a brigade-sized unit: roughly 3,000 troops.

Reinforcing NATO's presence in Poland and other allies close to Russia "will send a clear signal," Stoltenberg said earlier Wednesday. "NATO will respond as one to any aggression against any ally."

In the discussions held at NATO headquarters, U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter and his counterparts from Canada and the alliance's European members are also expected to discuss what other countries can do to better deter Russia following the Obama administration's Feb. 2 announcement that it wants to quadruple spending on U.S. troops and training in Europe.

A senior NATO official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal alliance deliberations, said the U.S. hopes its European NATO partners will commit to new investments for deterrence that would correspond to the $3.4 billion in extra spending and troops, equipment and training moves the Pentagon is proposing.

The alliance's new blueprint for deterrence relies on rotating some forces through frontline member states and prepositioning supplies there, but also on NATO's capacity to airlift in large numbers of reinforcements quickly in a crisis. It may only be fully ready when alliance heads of state and government meet in July.

"It is now less than six months until our next summit meeting, in Warsaw," Stoltenberg reminded defence ministers Wednesday. "There remains a great deal to do."

Following a request by Turkey, ministers are also reviewing what the U.S.-led alliance could do to help slow the influx of migrants into Europe by sea, Stoltenberg said.

"We all understand the concern and we all see the human tragedy," Stoltenberg said. He said the discussions could lead to a decision to use NATO air or sea assets to help combat people-smuggling.

The International Organization for Migration on Tuesday said 409 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, and that migrant crossings in the first six weeks of 2016 are running at nearly 10 times the rate of the same period last year. IOM said 76,000 people have reached Europe by sea, nearly 2,000 per day, since Jan. 1.

Germany, the leading destination for the migrants, many of whom are fleeing war or poverty in their homelands in the Middle East or Africa, welcomed the discussions at NATO.

"It is good that the Turkish government has asked NATO to help for the surveillance of the sea. We are aiming at stopping the business of the smugglers," German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said as she arrived at alliance headquarters.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • India blocks social media in Kashmir in wake of abuse videos

    World News CTV News
    SRINAGAR, India - India has ordered internet service providers in Indian-controlled Kashmir to block Facebook, Twitter and 20 other social media sites and online applications for one month, after several videos and photos depicting alleged abuses of Kashmiris by Indian security forces sparked outrage and fuelled protests. Source
  • Trump tells Canada, Mexico he won’t terminate NAFTA

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — The White House is telling U.S. media that it’s weighing a plan to pull out of NAFTA, upping the pressure on Congress to get cracking on negotiations under the threat of having the seminal trade deal obliterated. Source
  • Housing, economy, leadership feature in final B.C. election debate

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is defending the time it took her government to cool Vancouver's scorching housing market, telling voters watching a TV debate the Liberals wanted to make sure they didn't wipe out the equity people have built in their homes by acting rashly. Source
  • Hollywood producer testifies in Robert Durst murder case

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A Hollywood producer testified Wednesday that a friend claimed to have impersonated the first wife of real estate heir Robert Durst in a telephone call that prosecutors say took place after the wife was dead. Source
  • Doctors in Detroit-area genital mutilation case indicted

    World News Toronto Sun
    DETROIT — A grand jury indicted two doctors and a third person on Wednesday in an alleged scheme to perform genital mutilation on two girls from Minnesota at a Detroit-area clinic. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and Attar’s wife, Farida, are charged with female genital mutilation, conspiracy and other crimes. Source
  • Trekker missing in Nepal for 47 days saved, girlfriend dies 3 days before rescue

    World News CTV News
    KATHMANDU, Nepal -- A Taiwanese man who was missing on a mountain in Nepal for 47 days was rescued Wednesday, but his girlfriend died just three days before they were discovered, trekking officials said. Asian Trekking agency official Madhav Basnet said 21-year-old Liang Sheng Yueh was found Wednesday on a ledge under a waterfall and was flown by helicopter to a hospital in the capital, Kathmandu. Source
  • Canadian soldier killed in vehicle rollover remembered for 'big heart'

    Canada News CTV News
    A field memorial was held Wednesday morning for a Canadian solider killed when a light-armoured vehicle rolled over during a training exercise on an Alberta base. Sgt. Robert J. Dynerowicz died Tuesday after the accident at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright. Source
  • Conservative candidates battle it out after O'Leary quits

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — The Conservative leadership race now enters the final weeks with penultimate debate showcasing the task at hand for the majority of candidates: take down clear front-runner Maxime Bernier. Wednesday night’s final party debate in Toronto was supposed to be a big political spectacle in its own right, with the May 27 climax looming on the calendar. Source
  • Minnesota man gets 15 years for shooting 5 Black Lives Matter protesters

    World News CTV News
    MINNEAPOLIS -- A white Minnesota man who was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison Wednesday for shooting and wounding five black protesters said he'll live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life, but stopped short of apologizing. Source
  • Fresno shooter who targeted whites charged with 3 counts of murder

    World News CTV News
    FRESNO, Calif. -- The black suspect in a racially motivated shooting rampage in Fresno was charged Wednesday with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of white men he targeted randomly on the street, prosecutors said. Source