Russia’s decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a transformational moment for European security. The eastern frontier is currently facing a threat from Russian revisionism, which is visible in Ukraine.
Russia had already seized territory in Ukraine since early 2014, with varying degrees of success. Still, the scale and intensity of the fighting shocked most European countries and moved them to take previously unthinkable measures, GLOBSEC states in its report.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO, and military aid to Ukraine was greatly expanded. At the same time, Ukraine expects a clear NATO membership perspective to ensure security in future.
NATO necessary steps
- While the war in Ukraine is costing Moscow money, Russia may still be able to reestablish its military dominance by 2030.
- Therefore, NATO and its eastern flank members must determine and acquire the necessary resources in time to prepare measures they must take immediately to vent the Russian threat successfully.
- Members of the eastern flank have already raised their defence spending. After depleting their Soviet heritage supplies to aid Ukraine’s defence, they now have the opportunity to restock their militaries.
GLOBSEC proposed measures to strengthen the eastern flank’s deterrence capabilities:
- Fulfil promises to grow battlegroups to brigade levels and assist in the transition from rotating to the permanent presence where necessary. While it may take years to upgrade combat units, keeping the Madrid aim as a baseline assures readiness and capacity assessment.
- Increasing production to pre-position equipment and ammunition throughout the eastern flank to boost readiness and deterrent while continuing to transfer capability to Ukraine.
- Previous Agreements Should Be Discarded Because Russia Is a Terrorist State. NATO limits its presence on the eastern flank and loses the advantage of sending permanent forces by upholding the NATO-Russia Founding Act.
- Reduce reliance on Russia for energy. This is crucial for the Alliance and should be one of the top priorities.
GLOBSEC report structure and content
This report is divided into three sections.
- First, it examines how NATO has used deterrence in the past about Moscow before moving on to the current situation.
- Second, the assessment of three main flanks.
- The Nordics, the northeastern region comprising the Baltic and Poland; the ‘interior’ countries of Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary; and the Black Sea countries of Bulgaria and Romania.
- The capabilities that members along the eastern flank have been developing to enhance their respective national capabilities.
- The final segment examines the changes required for the European defence industrial base to make deterrence viable and credible in the future. These are followed by suggestions for how the Alliance should proceed.
The Nordics, the northeastern region that comprises the Baltic countries and Poland; the ‘interior’ countries of Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary; and the Black Sea countries of Bulgaria and Romania.
Russia’s threat to Europe and NATO’s members
Even when there is no state of war, Russia conducts numerous harmful acts against NATO countries across multiple vectors. Russian media outlets make disturbing references to launching military strikes against NATO countries regularly.
The eastern flank has been subjected to daily cyber-attacks targeting Russian-origin states and critical infrastructure. Despite their efforts to minimise their reliance on Russian hydrocarbons, European countries remain exposed to Russian energy coercion.
Given Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, NATO updated its Strategic Concept at the Madrid Summit in June 2022. Under the current conditions, the new Strategic Concept emphasises deterrence and defence as the most critical duties of the Alliance.
The placid post-Cold assault order is ended, as Russia’s assault against Ukraine and China’s support for Moscow’s actions have amply demonstrated. To ensure resilience that will be relevant for years to come, the Alliance now demands a long-term vision.
Most crucially, the Alliance’s security necessitates significant investment in the eastern flank and the development of a posture that successfully deters Russian invasion. As of today, the development of these features is still ongoing.
What is GLOBSEC?
GLOBSEC is a global think-tank based in Bratislava committed to enhancing security, prosperity and sustainability in Europe and worldwide.
The purpose of the GLOBSEC Future Security and Defence Council is to generate ideas and fuel effective enactment of deterrence against Russia and other threats to NATO, including the rise of challenges from China.
The multidomain concept of credible deterrence that is effective not only towards the traditional military but towards new hybrid warfare is also a concept that needs to be implemented at the NATO level.