NATO Announces New 'Spearhead' Force To Counter Russia

NATO announced a new "spearhead" force to reassure its Eastern European members that the alliance will defend them against Russian threats.
Posted at 8:25 PM, Sep 01, 2014

​The head of NATO announced plans Monday for a new “spearhead” force designed to deliver a quick response to a crisis inside any of its member states.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the announcement during a press conference ahead of this week's NATO summit.

“The readiness action plan will ensure that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place at the right time.”

NATO members will take turns supplying the bulk of the force, which officials say would be around 4,000 soldiers. The alliance will also help the host countries with intel upgrades and updated defense strategies, as well as the new infrastructure needed to accommodate the force.

Since Russia annexed Crimea back in March, Moscow’s aggressive foreign policy has put Eastern European NATO members, like Poland, Lithuania and Estonia, on edge — fearing Russia may set its sights on them next.

Rasmussen said that this new spearhead force would serve as a deterrent and any aggressors would “meet not only national troops from that specific NATO ally but they would meet NATO troops.”

So this force is in part an answer to some of the NATO members’ concerns, but will it be enough to prevent another “Crimea” situation?

A writer for The Guardian says, while NATO is typically able to counter overt military threats, most of the action in Ukraine has been covert. “The spearhead group will be trained to deal with unconventional actions, from the funding of separatist groups to the use of social media, intimidation and black propaganda.”

And an analyst for the BBC writes, for the force to be effective, there will have to be regular exercises and ready access to supplies.

NATO’s options for responding to the Kremlin have been tricky partially due to the NATO-Russia Founding Act signed in 1997, which promoted peaceful relations between Russia and the alliance.

The act stipulated that NATO wouldn't permanently station combat forces near Russia. This has made it particularly difficult for the organization to create any new bases in Eastern Europe.

Rasmussen said NATO will stick with the Founding Act for now, but that might not be the case after the summit. Responding to one question, he said relations between Russia and NATO have changed.

“We must face the reality that Russia does not consider NATO a partner. We can see in Russian military documents, we can listen to statements from Russian political leaders that they consider NATO an adversary.”

That view can be seen in some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent aggressive rhetoric, like bringing up Russia's nuclear arms stockpile.

And Monday Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported Putin told outgoing European Commission President Jose Barroso that he could take Kiev in two weeks if he wanted.

This video contains images from Getty Images photographers Chip Somodevilla, Sean Gallup, Oli Scarff and Carsten Koall.