Nato to send troops to Eastern Europe

The participants at the Nato summit in Warsaw have agreed to station 4,000 soldiers in Poland and the Baltic states to protect these countries from Russian aggression. Is this military build-up the right way to deal with Moscow?

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Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Fixation on Moscow highlights West's weakness

Cumhuriyet sees the fact that Russia was declared a target at the Nato summit as an act of desperation:

“The West is currently going through a period defined by Brexit panic, the crisis of neo-liberalism in Europe, right-wing populism and disparate views on the future of transatlantic relations. The shift of international economic and strategic power towards Asia, which is dominated by Russia and China, is causing geopolitical realignment and creating a new security architecture. … And the West itself feels trapped in decline. Russia, on the other hand, is dominating the military operations in the Middle East against the radical Islam which the West helped create. Not only has it boosted its presence in the eastern Mediterranean area, now it can also fire missiles from the Caspian Sea directly at IS targets in Syria. … For Nato, which sets great store by military superiority, this is hard to swallow.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Romania lacks clout

Romania also set up a multinational brigade in the run-up to the summit but the Allies left it in the lurch, security expert Oana Popescu criticises in Adevărul:

“It is worrying indeed that apart from Bulgaria and Poland no other Nato state wants to send troops to Romania. ... The Allies seem to be concentrating only on the northern and eastern flanks, providing them with extensive personnel and material resources. In the south, by contrast, the Romanian-Bulgarian brigade remains without personnel - or purpose - for the time being. Romania demonstrated laudable creativity in establishing the brigade and attracting attention in this way. But it was last-minute improvisation that the Allies had no intention of supporting. ... One could say that we have done very well for a country with limited means. But it is simply not normal that after having contributed so much to Nato Romania still has so little clout.”

Duma (BG) /

A new Iron Curtain going up

The pro-Russian daily Duma sees the decisions taken at the Nato summit as a sign of aggression against Moscow:

“Nato is eager to show the world that walls have not been relegated to the past. A new wall that stretches from the Baltic to the Black Sea is in planning. And it is to be even more solid and insurmountable, with the entire military strength of the alliance behind it. Nato needs walls to survive. This is the real reason why it is sending soldiers from the US, Canada, Germany and the UK to Poland and the Baltic region and setting up missile defence systems in Poland and Romania. Naturally, it hasn't forgotten the Black Sea either. In the autumn we will be informed about how and when Nato's Black Sea fleet will be deployed to make our waters safer too.”

15min (LT) /

A historic summit

The news that Germany and France are undertaking to defend the Baltic region is a miracle, the website 15min counters regarding the decisions taken at the Nato summit:

“A British diplomat once made a cynical but realistic comment in the pre-war era about the status of the Baltic states in the West: they could be a useful buffer between Germany and Russia, but otherwise they weren't really necessary. … On 8 July 2016 a miracle took place. Germany and France sent the message that the rumours of a split within Nato or a conflict between the US and the EU are exaggerated. And that they don't just see the Baltic countries as a buffer zone or no-man's-land, but as part of the European club.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Moscow not the main problem

Hürriyet finds Nato's fixation on Russia anachronistic in view of the global problems the world faces:

“Apart from President Erdoğan no one even mentioned the word 'Syria', even though the Middle East is haemorrhaging. The IS is exploding bombs all over the world yet Nato remains focussed almost entirely on Russia. The Nato founded against the Warsaw Pact in 1949 faces an entirely different security situation today. The Cold War ended almost 30 years ago. Nowadays the real threat is neither a state nor a region. … So no one can claim the community is facing up to today's threats. It is burying its head in the sand like an ostrich. This reflex is like that of a patient with end-stage cancer taking an aspirin to get rid of a headache.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Symbiotic relationship between Nato and Putin

Nato's policy of deterrence helps Putin, but the Russian president's policies are also helping Nato, Tages-Anzeiger observes:

“Vladimir Putin needs confrontation to preserve his power. Nonetheless the myth-making is having an impact even in the West. The myth is that Russia is the victim, surrounded and provoked by Nato expansion. This is a view of the world in which there are second-class states that belong to Moscow's sphere of influence. Yet Moscow itself once approved the right of states to freely select alliances. Vladimir Putin is the best recruiter for the Western alliance. His Russia is driving more and more states to seek membership of the alliance. Even the neutral Swedes and Finns are trying to move closer to Nato nowadays.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Putin playing a highly effective game

Whether in Syria or Ukraine, Putin's strategy vis-à-vis the West always works, the Süddeutsche Zeitung observes:

“Washington draws a red line, Assad crosses it - and a new round of negotiations with Moscow begins. Even worse than giving in is threatening consequences and then not following through. … In Ukraine Putin has successfully used the same approach: time and again the war party backed by Moscow has violated the ceasefire and withdrawal agreements. But not a shadow falls on Moscow; after all, it supposedly only has limited influence on the warring party. And time and again the West makes new offers, trying to tempt and build golden bridges. Putin is allowed to cast himself as mediator and terrorism fighter - no peace without Russia - and at the same time profit from the pressure that the attacks of the united war parties have created. And this is rewarded with ever new offers of cooperation. Who would give up such an effective game unless they were forced to?”

Super Express (PL) /

Poland must make maximum demands

Poland has often been betrayed by its allies in the past, the tabloid Super Express recalls:

“Even today we should draw a lesson from past betrayals. For some in Poland the lesson is crystal clear, but others view it as a sort of heresy: no one will save us just because we've got pretty eyes, and not even because we've signed 100 treaties. That is the brutal but sad truth: they will only save us if it's in their own interest. For that reason we must demand as many Nato soldiers as possible for regions that are particularly under threat. ... And we are in for hard times. Because if a politician who complains that Americans are having to pay for the defence of the Europeans [Trump] wins in the US, the money supply will be cut off and the Americans will concentrate only on themselves.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Alliance will strike a compromise

Give Russia a proper dressing-down or oblige Moscow? Nato will find a compromise, Die Presse predicts:

“The decisions that Nato makes at its summit in Warsaw will be a compromise between the two above-mentioned extremes. The alliance will open a few military bases, send 4,000 soldiers from other Nato states to the Baltic and Poland and deploy heavy military equipment. All this won't prevent a Russian attack - but it sends a message to the Russians: Nato stands united. An attack against Estonia, for example, is an attack against the entire alliance. Don't you dare!”

Politiken (DK) /

All for one and one for all

More crucial than stationing more soldiers on Nato's eastern flank is the oath its members should swear, Politiken believes:

“Fuelling aggression is easy. Much more difficult is setting aggression aside. For that reason any new arms build-up that looks like military support for Poland and the Baltic countries could do the peace cause a major disservice. We must never leave these countries in the lurch, but there can be no better assurance than the steadfast Musketeer's oath, which makes it clear that any attack on a Nato country is an attack on all. We stand side by side. ... And that is exactly what the Nato countries must make unequivocally clear at the summit: to the countries of Eastern Europe and above all to Putin.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Deployment of troops must be an exception

Instead of provocation, Nato would do better to focus on appeasement, the Club des Vingt, a group of former diplomats and foreign ministers, writes in Le Monde:

“Granted, Russia is not without faults. It's even scary. But is that a reason to use the summit to make political (the meeting in Warsaw) and military (the stationing of combat troops near Russian territory) gestures? ... The people who are bringing back the Cold War are the same ones who protest that the last thing they want is its return. They would be more credible if they tried to reassure Russia at the same time as they reassure Poland and the Baltic states. That involves saying just two things: firstly, the stationing of troops is an exceptional, and not a permanent measure; and secondly, Nato has reached its maximum number of members and will not accept any more.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Don't just rely on deterrence

In view of Moscow's current stance stationing thousands of soldiers in Eastern Europe is a good move, but deterrence alone is not enough, Handelsblatt argues:

“In addition to military strength we must show a willingness for dialogue and cooperation. We need a dual strategy like the one called for in Nato's 1967 Harmel Report and implemented by Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik. ... Above all, however, we need staying power. Moscow's muscle-flexing is an expression of its internal weakness and economic decline. Overcoming that will take time, renewed trust and clear instructions from the Transatlantic Alliance. The debate must rise out of the trenches in which those calling for a clear stance are disparaged as vassals of the US military-industrial complex, and their opponents as Russia-lovers. Deterrence and a readiness for dialogue are the two sides of the same coin.”

Wprost (PL) /

Germans need to rethink their stance

The Germans aren't doing anyone a favour by keeping a low profile on the question of boosting Nato's presence on the eastern front, comments Tomasz Wróblewski, editor-in-chief of news magazine Wprost:

“This is the right place and the right time to remind Germany's politicians that they are only one part of the complex puzzle that is the European security system. They are the ones blocking the measures to boost Nato's presence in the East. Without the US's guarantees both their prosperity and their security would vanish into thin air. This is also the right place and time to change the defence doctrine in which Poland is only seen as a forecourt for the defence of Germany. … This is the last chance for the Western world to protect itself from declining just like Asia and Africa have done.”

Latvijas Avize (LV) /

More security for Nato member states in the East

At the Nato summit in July the Alliance should approve measures aimed at fortifying its eastern flank, the daily paper Latvijas avīze urges:

“Comments by politicians to the effect that certain countries are in the 'wrong place' on the map, which hinders their integration into the Western Alliance system, show that the logic of dividing up the zones of influence has not disappeared entirely, despite the experiences of the Cold War in which only those Europeans on the 'right side' of the Iron Curtain were able to develop democratic societies, and they only felt secure because they enjoyed Nato's protection. It is a mistake to assume that Eastern Europe and the Baltic states can get by with nothing more than symbolic or extremely limited protective measures.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Europe needs US protection

At the upcoming Nato summit the alliance must clearly acknowledge the threat posed by Russia and adopt measures to counter it, Hospodářské noviny demands:

“After the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, for a few years it seemed that the danger of an attack on Europe had diminished. But the old threats are re-emerging. How else are we to interpret the statements by military experts in Moscow that Russian soldiers could take control of the Baltic states within two or three days? The current policy of maintaining a changing Nato brigade there is a reminder of Article 5 of the Nato Treaty, according to which an attack on one member state is an attack on all of them. … Old-new deliberations about whether protecting European security should be left in Nato's hands or transferred to the EU are confusing and lead nowhere. At least in the medium term the US remains indispensable both in terms of military strategy and geopolitically.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Host Poland must set aside internal disputes

In view of the crucial importance of the summit Gazeta Wyborcza calls for Poland to set aside its internal disputes and concentrate on the organisation of the event:

“At the summit in July decisions will be taken regarding the security of future generations. So we should forget our own political feuds when it comes to this matter. We already know that Nato will decide on specific issues such as the stationing of armed forces on the so-called eastern flank. [According to previous statements] they are to be stationed there 'permanently' and 'according to a rotation principle'. In particular we have no information on how strong these troops will be or where they will be deployed. … It is vital that we support this summit regardless of who is leading the country right now.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Russia benefits from Nato's lack of consensus

The Nato summit in Warsaw won't end the dispute among the member states about the Russia sanctions, writes Jutarnji list:

“The Nato member states are very much in agreement about their goals but also very divided on how to implement them. National interests and the sense of being under threat, and consequently the desire to be protected, vary too much from state to state. Putin knows all this and is speculating that this lack of consensus will secure his victory in the sanctions war. What's more, Putin has an advantage, and not because the sanctions are hurting Russia less than they are hurting the West. Putin enjoys the unlimited support of the Russian people - for any action he decides to take in the struggle with the West.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Allies must act in unison

The organisers of the Nato summit have their work cut out for them, the head of the Polish office of the think tank Atlantic Council, Michał Kobosko, writes in a guest commentary for Rzeczpospolita:

“We're extremely proud that all of the world's influential political leaders will come here in July to discuss security structures and potential responses to the new risks. But that alone will not automatically make this summit a historical event, one that achieves the goals it has set for itself. That will only happen if the allies meeting in Warsaw take action as a single entity in response to the risks we face to the east and to the south. ... Moreover, clear statements on these security issues must be forthcoming in advance of the summit.”

More opinions

L'Echo (BE) / 08 July 2016
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