NATO summit to boost defences
June 28, 2022 - June 30, 2022 - NATO looks set to agree to the most significant overhaul of its defences since the Cold War, including a seven-fold expansion of its 40,000-strong response force to a new Allied Reaction Force. NATO leaders meet for a landmark summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 28-30.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg plans to expand the 40,000-strong NATO Response Force to more than 300,000. The name will likely change to the Allied Reaction Force (ARF).
“Russia has walked away from the partnership and the dialogue that NATO has tried to establish with Russia for many years,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels ahead of the Madrid summit.
The eight battlegroups -- increased to 25,300 personnel following the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 -- will likely be boosted with thousands more troops.
Stoltenberg has said that NATO allies will agree “to strengthen battlegroups in the east up to brigade level.” A brigade can be between 3,000 and 5,000 personnel.
The summit comes as tensions between Moscow and the West rise after the European Union halted the transport of steel and ferrous metals through Lithuanian territory to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad as part of the fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia.
The Kremlin has threatened to retaliate against the sanctions. Some in the West fear that the Kremlin could be planning military action to secure a land corridor between its ally Belarus and the Kaliningrad region via the so-called Suwalki Gap, a 65-kilometre (40-mile) strip of land in Poland along the border with Lithuania.