NATO Weekly Roundup - Week of April 19th

NATO’s Military Exercises and Operations 

“NATO backs Biden’s plan to withdraw from Afghanistan”

  • Still maintaining the Alliance’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan, NATO allies agreed to withdraw their troops by September to follow the initiative led by the United States; the details of the withdrawal are under discussion, but most NATO allies strongly endorsed troop withdrawal this year. 

“Poland joins NATO assurance mission for Turkey”

  • Poland deployed troops to Turkey in an effort to bolster security measures in the southeast regions of the Alliance, providing Polish M28 “Bryza” aircraft to aid in maritime support as well as naval support. 

“Partnership for Peace nations join NATO for Baltic Air Policing training”

  • For the first time, Finland and Sweden, two Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations, have joined NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) training for the first round of Exercise ‘Ramstein Alloy 21-1’; the air policing training will be conducted over all European NATO allied territory, simulating with real-world scenarios.

“NATO fighter jets intercept Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea”

  • After identifying two Russian Tu-160 bombers, escorted by Su-27 and Su-35 fighter aircraft as well as a Russian A-50 Mainstay warning and control plane in airspace over the Baltic Sea, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) launched a combination of allied aircraft from Germany, Estonia, and Lithuania in response. 

“NATO warns Russia over forces near Ukraine”

  • Tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine as Russian forces continue to amass on the border, sparking condemnation from both Kyiv and from NATO; Russia responds by warning NATO to stop sending arms to Ukraine and to keep NATO warships out of the Black Sea.

“Russia, Ukraine holds military drills, NATO Criticizes Russian Troop build-up”

  • On Wednesday, April 17th, Russia and Ukraine conducted military drills simultaneously as NATO officials were reviewing the increasing Russian military buildup at the Ukraine border.

“UK looks to increase contribution to NATO AGS”

  • After the retirement of the U.K Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) five sentinel R1 airborne stand-off radar (ASTOR) surveillance units from NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS), the United Kingdom is in talks with NATO on how to adjust the United Kingdom’s contribution to the AGS; the United Kingdom will also increase its presence in the NATO base in Sigonella, Italy, to support its five RQ-4D Phoenix unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including mission planning staff, UAV pilots, and more. 

“General Says NATO Prepared to Respond to Aggression Should Deterrence Fail”

  • Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command, and Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, both testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee that U.S. cooperation with European allies and with NATO are crucial to European security and stability, highlighting NATO’s robust ability to deploy international troops, including the NATO Defender series taking place this summer, composed of 30,000 U.S. service members, allies, and partners. 

“NATO mine clear-up operation Open Spirit 2021 kicks off”

  • The NATO mine countermeasures operation Open Spirit 2021 began on Monday, focusing on mine detection and clearance in the Gulf of Finland and Narva Bay, and includes 11 states such as the United States, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, and more, and includes the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) and the Baltic Naval Squadron. 

“NATO Could Complete Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal by July 4 - Months Ahead of U.S. Goal”

  • Germany’s Defense Minister said that a July 4 NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is being considered, as an international peace conference to form a contract between polarized parties in Afghanistan was postponed until after Ramadan and Eid festivities as the Taliban voiced their disinterest in the peace talks.  

Political Elements of NATO

“NATO, EU Condemn Russia’s Plans To Close Parts Of Black Sea For Six Months”

  • Russia has indicated it may close part of the Black Sea to maritime traffic in order to conduct military exercises from August to October, prompting condemnation from several states in the global community, including several NATO allies, Ukraine, and the European Union. 

“North Atlantic Council Statement following the announcement by the United States of actions with regard to Russia”

  • The North Atlantic Council (NAC) released an announcement focusing on four central components: NATO solidarity with the United States’ condemnation of Russia’s actions, Russia’s pattern of destabilizing behavior (in regards to occurrences such as the Budapest Memorandum, election interference, aggression against Ukraine, and Alexei Navalny), NATO’s commitment to address Russia’s destabilizing and aggressive actions, and NATO’s continued invitation for diplomacy.

“North Atlantic Council Ministerial Statement on Afghanistan”

  • NATO Allies will start withdrawing troops of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan beginning on May 1 in a deliberate and coordinated manner and will complete the full withdrawal in a few months; NATO Allies warn that any conflict posed by the Taliban during this withdrawal will be met with force, and although NATO realizes military action is not the solution, the Allies are still committed to political progress towards peace in the region.  

“Secretary General welcomes US Secretary of Defense to NATO”

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to NATO Headquarters, discussing the withdrawal of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and the upcoming NATO summit with Secretary Austin where NATO Ministers will revisit the NATO 2030 agenda. 

“Deputy Secretary General participates in NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference”

  • At the NATO Cyber Defence Pledge Conference 2021, held virtually from Estonia, Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană affirmed the importance of cybersecurity to the NATO Alliance, highlighting the a cyber-attack can trigger Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and that cyber is now considered a military domain, encouraging NATO to keep innovating in cybersecurity and involve other non-official sectors in strategy planning. 

“NATO backs U.S. sanctions on Russia, decries Moscow’s ‘destabilising behaviour’”

  • In light of recent U.S. sanctions on Russia (prohibiting U.S. financial institutions in Russia’s government debt primary market), NATO allies voiced their support for these measures to condemn Russia’s buildup of troops on Ukraine’s borders and destabilizing behaviour. 

“Secretary General welcomes US Secretary of State to NATO”

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to NATO Headquarters to discuss NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and preparations for the upcoming NATO summit. 

“Erdoğan, Stoltenberg discuss Ukraine, Afghanistan, East Med in call”

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the legitimate leadership structures in Libya, such as the Presidential Council and the Government of National Unity (GNU), the desire for peace in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, the future for Afghanistan, and tensions in the Black Sea due to Russian aggression and its rise in cease-fire violations in Ukraine.