NATO Weekly Roundup - Week of April 26th

NATO’s Military Exercises and Operations 

“Russia holds naval drills as U.S. vessel heads to Black Sea”

  • Russia’s Black Sea fleet recently began naval combat drills in light of the approach of a U.S. coastguard vessel in the Black Sea region to support NATO allies in the region; both NATO Allies and Russia have increased military presence near the Ukrainian border as a mutual readiness response. 

“NSPA Contributes to Exercise DEFENDER- Europe 2021 With Real Life Support” 

  • The NATO Support and Procurement Agency, headed by the United States, is expected to provide over 30,000 military personnels from multiple nations as exercises will be conducted in thirty training areas across 12 countries. The NSPA is also expected to finalize their food and camp capabilities before May 2021 which will assist in preparing for future interoperability. 

“France takes command of NATO Naval Group For the First Time”

  • Command of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) was recently transferred from Turkey to the French Navy, signaling the first time that any command of one of NATO’s four standing naval forces has been taken by France; the Standing NATO Maritime Groups signify NATO’s cohesion and cooperation in maritime activities as well as NATO’s capability and maritime interoperability. 

“NATO tees up negotiations on artificial intelligence in weapons”

  • NATO officials have begun discussion on the use of artificial intelligence in defense measures and operations as part of a larger initiative to sharpen innovation in emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs) used in the NATO Alliance; among some topics of discussion are responsible use, rules and principles for artificial intelligence and EDTs, accountability, transparency, and more. 

“CT National Guard members deploy to Kosovo to assist NATO efforts for a year”

  • Members of the Connecticut National Guard recently deployed on a year-long peacebuilding mission in Kosovo as part of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in NATO’s Mission to Kosovo.

“Portugal commits 146 soldiers to NATO mission in Lithuania”

  • 146 Portuguese military personnel, most of whom are Marine forces, will deploy between June and August to assist the NATO mission in Lithuania as part of “reassurance measures” and an increased presence on the eastern borders of Europe; accompanying the troops will be eight armored vehicles (High Mobility Multipurpose Motor Vehicles or HMMWV) lent by the Portuguese Army. 

“Russia to pull back troops from Ukraine border” 

  • On Friday, April 22nd, Russia removed its forces from near Ukranian borders in annexed Crimea. There was no specification by Russia on the number of additional troops that were removed. NATO and the U.S. recognizes this military build up as one Russia’s biggest since March 2014 build up. 

“Marshall to upgrade NATO DACC communication systems”

  • A contract has been recently awarded by the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency to Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (MADG) in order to modernize NATO’s Deployable Air Command and Control Component’s (DACC) communications systems; some upgrades include a new voice over internet protocol (VoIP), which could revolutionize the way that critical mission data is transmitted and relayed by NATO Allies. 

“Korea Power Exchange Participates in NATO Cyber Defense Exercise”

  • The Korea Power Exchange participated as an operational team serving as the control/command center in Locked Shields 2021, an international cyber defense exercise that included 24 NATO Allies and partners; included in Locked Shields 2021 were exercises on cyber attacks affecting critical infrastructure and cyber warfare. 

“NATO partners discuss command and control leading up to AK21”

  • The first Command and Control Commanders’ Conference was held with NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence Center of Excellence, hosted by the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA); the conference focused on collaborative operations to prepare member states such as Turkey, the United States, Italy, Greece, and more for the USAFE-AFAFRICA exercise Astral Knights 2021 (AK21), set to take place at the end of May. 

Political Elements of NATO

“Secretary General welcomes Prime Minister of Slovakia to NATO Headquarters”

  • Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hosted Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger at NATO headquarters to discuss a variety of issues and achievements, including Slovakia’s contributions to the NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, participation in the multinational battlegroup in Latvia, pandemic aid sent to fellow Allies, and the need for continued stability in the Western Balkans in light of recent Russian aggression. 

“Republic of Moldova requests international assistance in their response to Covid-19”

  • NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), NATO’s principal civil emergency response body, has received multiple requests for international assistance to help fight the global Covid-19 pandemic in the Republic of Moldova. 

“NATO Secretary General announces date of the 2021 Brussels Summit”

  • Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has announced June 14, 2021 as the date for the next NATO summit to be held in Brussels, Belgium; topics to be discussed include Russian aggression, the NATO 2030 agenda, terrorism, cyber attacks, disruptive technologies, and more. 

“North Atlantic Council statement in solidarity with the Czech Republic”

  • NATO’s North Atlantic Council (NAC) voiced its solidarity with the Czech Republic’s decision to expel 18 Russian officials in light of a deadly explosion in 2014 caused by two Russian intelligence operatives on ammunition storage depots in the Czech Republic, further demonstrating Russia’s destabilizing actions in the region. 

“Baltic states join NATO allies in kicking out Russians for spying”

  • Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have joined multiple other countries in NATO and the EU calling for the removal of Russian diplomats due to allegations of espionage; these actions come largely after calls from the Czech Republic to show solidarity in dispelling Russian diplomats due to increased Russian aggression and destabilization. 

“Secretary General addresses global leaders on NATO’s response to climate change”

  • At the Leaders Summit on climate, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained how NATO will step up efforts regarding climate change, focusing on three key areas: understanding the challenge of climate change, adapting NATO’s approach, and the reduction of military emissions. 

“Biden to Join NATO Leaders at June 14 Summit in Brussels”

  • President Joe Biden is set to attend the NATO Summit on June 14, 2021 at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, where top NATO ministers and officials will discuss crucial topics such as Russia and China, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, terrorism, cyberattacks, emerging and disruptive technologies, and more. 

“Russian defense chief scoffs at Western warnings on Ukraine”

  • Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claims that Russia’s recent troop withdrawal from Ukraine was not due to any pressure intended by NATO Allies, while also pointing to mounting military deployment by NATO Allies near Russia’s borders, including NATO’s Defender Europe 2021 exercises; peace and ceasefire agreements following the violence in Donbas beginning in 2014 do not seem to be making any marked improvements in the tensions between Ukraine and Russia.