In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO on Tuesday drew up the deepest restructuring of its strategy since the end of the Cold War in the event of a Russian attack.
The top-secret plans detail which of the 31 member countries of the Western military alliance will be called upon to respond to an attack from the areas of the Arctic and Baltic seas, across the North Atlantic and as far as the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
“Peace in the Euro-Atlantic area has collapsed,” the alliance leaders said in a statement, laying out the threats posed by Russia and terrorism. “Together, these plans will significantly improve our ability and readiness to deter and defend against any threat, even in the event of little or no warning, and to ensure timely reinforcement from all allies.”
The leaders, meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, “commit to allocate resources and regularly exercise these plans in order to be prepared for a high-intensity, multi-domain defense.”
Under the new plans, NATO commanders will know more clearly how many soldiers and equipment they have at their disposal and how long it would take to get them ready, officials said.
The plans were reformulated after the Russian invasion of Ukraine ran counter to the alliance’s traditional military calculations.
NATO, as an organization, does not provide weapons or ammunition to Ukraine, lest it be drawn into a broader war with Russia. At the same time, it is massively strengthening its military presence in countries close to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Some 40,000 troops are standing by from Estonia on the alliance’s eastern flank to Romania on the Black Sea. Some 100 aircraft fly over the region every day, and a total of 27 warships ply the waters of the Baltic and Mediterranean seas. Those numbers are about to rise.
Under the new plans, NATO would have up to 300,000 troops ready to move to its eastern flank in 30 days. The plans divide the alliance into three zones: the North Atlantic, the zone north of the Alps, and southern Europe.
The planning was based on the strength of the Russian army before the invasion of Ukraine, almost 17 months ago. Since then the war has depleted the resources of the Russian army, but not its navy or air force, NATO commanders say.
The alliance’s 31 member countries participated in a “force generation conference” in late June to calculate how many soldiers and equipment it should have available to respond to a possible Russian attack, both in the short and long term.
Alliance commanders expressed optimism about the results, although they declined to give details for security reasons. Experts and diplomats, however, have expressed doubts about members’ willingness to make 300,000 troops available.