By Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO is set to tell its military commanders on Wednesday to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including more troops and missile defences in eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said.
Defence ministers will order the military advice at NATO headquarters, just over a week before allied leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, gather in Brussels on March 24.
Ministers will also hear from their Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov, who is expected to plead for more weapons from individual NATO countries, as Russian attacks on Ukraine’s cities continue and the Russian military seeks control of Kyiv.
“We need to reset our military posture for this new reality,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday. “Ministers will start an important discussion on concrete measures to reinforce our security for the longer term, in all domains,” he told reporters.
While at least 10 of NATO’s biggest allies, including the United States, Britain and France, have deployed more troops, ships and warplanes to its eastern flank, and put more on stand-by, the alliance must still consider how to face up to a new security situation in Europe over the medium term.
Russian President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert on Feb. 27. Russian missiles hit a Ukrainian base near the border with NATO member Poland on March 13, bringing the invasion right up to NATO’s doorstep.
Those missiles were from Russia, the United States has said, underscoring Moscow’s ability to hit NATO’s eastern allies. The United States has also warned of undefined consequences for Moscow if Russia were to launch a chemical attack in Ukraine.
NATO, founded in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, is not treaty-bound to defend Ukraine. But it must defend its 30 allies.
However, diplomats say NATO wants to avoid directly stating their plans, or what would trigger their “Article 5” collective defence pledge, saying “strategic ambiguity” is also a defensive instrument against any Russian aggression.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Latvia