The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) yesterday announced that the intergovernmental military alliance is beefing up its Baltic battalions in order to prevent conflict, but denies this is a “Cold War” with Russia.
Speaking in Berlin, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told journalists: “We are strengthening our collective defence not to provoke a conflict but to prevent a conflict.”
In order to allay fears by explaining further the motives behind the move, the former Prime Minister of Norway added:
“We do not want confrontation with Russia. On the contrary, we strive for a more constructive relationship with Russia.
“We are not in a new Cold War.”
Secretary General Stoltenberg was conducting a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reports Deutsche Welle.
Mrs. Merkel called for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council before the wider NATO summit in Warsaw next month. This is meant to deal with fears expressed by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania about the threat they perceive from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in early 2014.
The move comes soon after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed NATO is considering the deployment of a ground force in Eastern Europe to deter Russia. Mrs. Merkel said that Germany is prepared for intensive engagement in the Baltic region.
Engagement with Russia was not the only topic on the agenda, with both leaders also briefing about the ongoing migrant crisis and terrorism.
Deployment of NATO troops to counter human traffickers in and around the Aegean Sea was mentioned, with Mr. Stoltenberg saying he is of the opinion that “NATO could do and ought to do more” to tackle the migrant crisis.
Handling the situation in Iraq and Libya was also discussed. Mrs. Merkel announced NATO’s willingness to accept Iraq’s request for NATO assistance in training its military, and Mr. Stoltenberg said the alliance is ready “to help the new government in Libya”, but only as part of a United Nations initiative.