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

  • Wandering child no excuse for police to search home, Appeal Court rules

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A man with a marijuana grow-op in his basement has had his drug conviction thrown out because police had no right to enter his home -- even though his four-year-old had been found wandering alone near a busy intersection dressed only in a diaper, Ontario's top court ruled on Wednesday. Source
  • U.K. police, Muslim youths link hands to mark London attack

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Police officers, Muslim youths and hundreds of others linked hands Wednesday on Westminster Bridge to honour the four people who died in an attack that started on the span a week earlier. The bridge fell silent at 2:40 p.m. Source
  • Review finds major problems at Royal Military College of Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A review of the Royal Military College of Canada has uncovered significant problems at the prestigious institution in Kingston, Ont., prompting a promise of immediate action from none other than the country's top soldier. Source
  • Amid gym scale controversy, Carleton puts scales in changing rooms

    Canada News CTV News
    An Ontario university that stirred up controversy by removing the scales from its primary athletic facility says everyone now has the means of weighing themselves at the centre again. Ottawa's Carleton University says it now has scales in both men's and women's changing rooms in a bid to compromise with those who were angry when the scale in the main gym was removed earlier this month. Source
  • Warmer weather on way for Maritimes, but more snow possible

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX - Milder weather is on its way to parts of the Maritimes, but a meteorologist warns that winter may not be loosening its grip on the region quite yet. Environment Canada meteorologist Bob Robichaud says a low pressure system will continue pumping cold air over Nova Scotia before it pulls away late Friday. Source
  • Nature Conservancy buys 'pristine' property along Lake Superior

    Canada News CTV News
    The Nature Conservancy of Canada says it has purchased more than 1,000 hectares of property on the north shore of Lake Superior that is crucial to species such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons. It says the Big Trout Bay area is one of the last privately owned, undeveloped shorelines between Thunder Bay, Ont. Source
  • Wristbands supporting Ottawa officer not to be worn on duty, police chief says

    Canada News CBC News
    Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau says on-duty officers should not wear wristbands showing support for one of their colleagues charged with manslaughter in the death of Abdirahman Abdi.Ottawa police don wristbands in support of officer charged with manslaughterPretrial set for Ottawa police officer charged in Abdirahman Abdi's deathOttawa Police Service members and their supporters have purchased hundreds of wristbands showing solidarity with Const. Source
  • First lady helps present courage awards to 13 women

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Melania Trump is helping present courage awards to 13 women from around the world. The first lady and top State Department official Thomas Shannon are presenting the awards in Washington. Mrs. Source
  • Youth pass to travel across Canada yours for only $150 — once Via Rail fixes website glitch

    Canada News CBC News
    Via Rail announced an unbeatable deal for young travellers Tuesday night — a rail pass that will allow those between the ages of 12 and 25 to travel on all routes, as much as they want for the month of July. Source
  • China's demand for elephant ivory drops: report

    World News CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- The price of ivory in China has dropped sharply as the country plans to end the legal trade in ivory later this year, a leading elephant conservation group said in a new report Wednesday. Source