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NATO ill-prepared for a Russian attack: report
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Oct 20, 2017


NATO announces summit for July 2018
Brussels (AFP) Oct 20, 2017 - NATO will hold its next summit on July 11 and 12, the alliance said Friday, with the fight against terrorism and the growing threat from Russia expected to be high on the agenda.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the meeting at the alliance's new billion-euro headquarters in Brussels would "further strengthen the bond" between Europe and North America.

Last year's summit was marred by doubts over the United States' commitment to the alliance as President Donald Trump berated leaders for not spending enough on defence and refused to give an unequivocal commitment to NATO's Article 5 collective security guarantee.

The 2018 summit comes against a backdrop of increasing concern about growing Russian assertiveness, particularly in the areas of hybrid and cyber warfare.

NATO has deployed around 4,000 international troops to the Baltic states and Poland to counter the threat to the alliance's eastern flank, particularly since the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

"In response to evolving threats, NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation," Stoltenberg said in a statement announcing the summit dates.

"Our multinational battlegroups in the east of the alliance are now fully operational and we are strengthening our presence in the Black Sea region."

The summit will also discuss the fight against terrorism -- an area which Washington wants to see NATO do more on.

NATO normally holds a full formal summit every two years, but leaders decided to hold an additional, slimmed down version in May 2017 in Brussels to mark the formal handover of the US-led alliance's new high-tech headquarters.

After causing alarm at last year's summit, Trump later clarified that the US was still committed to Article 5, under which NATO regards an attack on one member as an attack on all.

NATO would be incapable of rebuffing an attack by Russia on its eastern flank, according to an internal report by the alliance cited Friday by German magazine Der Spiegel.

The document, entitled "Progress Report on the Strengthened Deterrence and Defence Capability of the Alliance", identified significant deficiencies.

"NATO's ability to logistically support rapid reinforcement in the strongly expanded territory of the European commander's area of responsibility has atrophied since the end of the Cold War," Spiegel quoted the report as saying.

Even the expansion of the NATO Response Force (NRF) had failed to ensure that it could "react rapidly and -- if necessary -- sustainably", it said.

The report cited a pared-down command structure since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as one of the crucial factors that had undermined the alliance's defence capabilities, Spiegel said.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu declined to comment on the Spiegel report but said that alliance "forces are more ready and able to deploy than at any time in decades".

She added that work was "underway to ensure that the NATO command structure remains robust, agile and fit for purpose," an issue to be discussed at a meeting of NATO defence ministers next month.

NATO's relations with Russia have hit their lowest point since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine.

After Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, the alliance suspended its civilian and military cooperation with Moscow, and Ukraine announced its intention to apply for NATO membership.

The alliance also fast-tracked preparations for the defence of eastern European members and tripled the size of its Response Force, with a new 5,000-member rapid reaction force at its core.

The US-led alliance has bolstered its forces in eastern Europe with four international battalions acting as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism in the region.

But NATO has also tried to maintain dialogue with Moscow, and ambassadors from its 29 member states will meet their Russian counterpart next Thursday in Brussels.

SUPERPOWERS
India welcomes Tillerson call for deeper ties to counter China
New Delhi (AFP) Oct 20, 2017
India on Friday welcomed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's comments that Washington would rather work with New Delhi than Beijing over the next century, saying it shared his optimism about their burgeoning relationship. Speaking ahead of a visit to India next week, Tillerson called Wednesday for deeper cooperation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia and said Washi ... read more

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