NATO 'reset' plans permanent troop presence on border, 'long term' consequences for Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin might get the opposite of what he’s bargained for, as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently suggested plans of a permanent presence of allied troops on the eastern flank in response to the invasion of Ukraine, which has dragged on for 46 days as of Sunday.  

“What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security. Therefore, we have now asked our military commanders to provide options for what we call a reset, a more longer-term adaptation of NATO,” Stoltenberg is quoted as saying in a recent interview with The Telegraph. “I expect that NATO leaders will make decisions on this when they meet in Madrid at the NATO summit in June.”

Stoltenberg explained that NATO received a “wake-up call” in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and at that time, implemented the biggest reinforcement of the alliance since the end of the Cold War. In light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the alliance, born out of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty between the US, Canada and European nations, is shifting from reinforcement to a complete “reset.”  NATO has since deployed an additional 40,000 troops to the eastern flank from the Baltic to the Black Sea. 

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    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, April 7, 2022. Ukraine on Thursday appealed to NATO for more weapons in its fight against Russia to help prevent further atrocities like those reported in the city of Bucha, and urged Germany to slash red tape so that more supplies can get in.  ((AP Photo/Olivier Matthys))

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    Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, left, speaks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, during a second meeting of the North Atlantic Council with participation of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, April 7, 2022. Ukraine on Thursday appealed to NATO for more weapons in its fight against Russia to help prevent further atrocities like those reported in the city of Bucha, and urged Germany to slash red tape so that more supplies can get in.  ((AP Photo/Olivier Matthys))

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    Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, left, walks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as they arrive for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, April 7, 2022. NATO foreign ministers are meeting to discuss how to bolster their support to Ukraine, including by supplying weapons to the conflict-torn country, without being drawn into a wider war with Russia.  ((AP Photo/Olivier Matthys))

Prior to late February, NATO presence at the eastern border constituted more of a “trip wire deterrence” meant to symbolize the alliance’s commitment to defend itself from Russian attack. Part of the “reset” will be about “deterrence by denial of defense” against a possible invasion of the alliance. NATO is “in the midst of a very fundamental transformation,” to reflect “the long-term consequences” of Putin’s actions, Stoltenberg, who extended his term as head of the alliance by a year, said.  

“Regardless of when, how, the war in Ukraine ends, the war has already had long-term consequences for our security. NATO needs to adapt to that new reality. And that’s exactly what we are doing,” he told The Telegraph. “NATO is the most successful alliance in history for two reasons. One is that we have been able to unite Europe and North America. The other is that we have been able to change when the world is changing. Now the world is changing, and NATO is changing.”

Amid concerns that Russia and China are working closely together, Stoltenberg said NATO is finalizing a new strategic concept to account for Beijing having the second largest defense budget in the world. 

The rise of China and “shifting global balance of power” has “direct consequences for NATO,” Stoltenberg added, explaining how China has been investing heavily in new modern nuclear capabilities and long-range missiles that can reach NATO territory. 

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