By Horst Teubert

Horst Teubert is an independent German journalist and foreign policy analyst based in London.

Via <<>>, a web site that disseminates critical information about German foreign policy.

To the Russian Border
July 11, 2016

NATO wound up its summit in Warsaw, Saturday, with a decision to bolster its arms buildup. The measures decided by the Western war alliance are particularly aimed at Russia. Four battalion-sized NATO-“Battle Groups” will be deployed in Poland and the Baltic countries – one under German command. NATO will also support Ukraine’s armed forces and reinforce its presence on the Black Sea. The war alliance pursues its propaganda of Cold-War style alleged threat scenarios.

With an allusion to the “Fulda Gap,” NATO identifies today a “Suwalki Gap” between northeastern Poland and southern Lithuania as an alleged gateway for Russian troops to Kaliningrad through Belarus, against which, NATO would be “helpless.” Statistics show that the “helpless” NATO invests thirteen times more than Russia in its military. While the EU is enhancing its cooperation with the western war alliance, the US is heating up the next major conflict – with China – through its deployment of a missile defense system in Asia.

Battle Groups
The deployment of western troops at the Russian border constitutes the central element of the arms buildup decided at Warsaw’s NATO summit. Battalion-sized NATO “Battle Groups” [1] will be deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Germany being the “framework nation,” the Bundeswehr will command the battle group in Lithuania. Berlin and NATO claim that this decision is still not in violation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act from 1997, which stipulates that no “substantial combat forces” be stationed permanently in the new NATO-member countries.

However, during the NATO summit, Poland’s Defense Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, pointed out that in fact a much larger number of NATO-servicemen could be present, for example in Poland. Waszczykowski recalled that the USA plans to regularly dispatch a brigade to Poland from Germany for military exercises. There will also be the personnel for the NATO missile defense and the combat support brigade for the Multinational Corps Northeast, with leading Bundeswehr participation. According to Waszczykowski, more than 10,000 NATO servicemen will be stationed in Poland.[2]

Successful Offensive
During its Warsaw summit, NATO also agreed on other measures, which are clearly directed at Russia – in spite of some of its declarations to the contrary. NATO declared partial readiness of its new missile defense system and officially took command handed over by the United States. A radar system in Turkey and a missile interception site in Romania are operational and four warships docked in Spain can also be used for the missile defense system. Its central command has been installed at NATO’s Allied Air Command Headquarters in Ramstein, Germany. NATO will help Ukraine to modernize its armed forces and to achieve interoperability with NATO. Both measures are aimed at Russia.

The war alliance expressed its explicit appreciation of “Ukraine’s significant contributions to Allied operations and the NATO Response Force.”[3] NATO also seeks to “strengthen its air and maritime presence” in the Black Sea region. Romania will establish a fully operational “multinational brigade” in which Bulgaria will participate. To prevent Russia from undertaking counter measures in response to this NATO aggression, NATO has announced a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council for Wednesday. If NATO succeeds in forestalling Moscow’s reaction, its arms buildup offensive would be successful without disadvantages.[4]

The “Suwalki Gap”
Leading German media are accompanying NATO’s arms buildup with elements of propaganda revived straight from the tool chests of the cold war. Today, they have begun to propagate the notion of a “Suwalki Gap,” a region of northeast Poland and Southern Lithuania where an alleged Russian assault is expected. The term “Suwalki Gap” alludes to the cold war’s “Fulda Gap,” which up to 1989 had been considered the alleged gateway for the Warsaw Treaty nations’ troops into Germany.

NATO is spreading the word that “there is a threat of Russia provoking a regional conventional conflict,” where Russian units attack via Belarus through the “Suwalki Gap” to Kaliningrad. This would “separate the Baltic from the rest of NATO, returning these countries to Moscow’s orbit.” NATO would have to stand by “watching helplessly” from the sidelines, because it has “no strong forces in the region,” it is claimed. Moreover, “the Baltic could hardly be retaken after [Russian, editor’s note] conquest.”[5]

The “Helpless” NATO
The absurdity of the assertion that NATO is “helpless,” has been graphically debunked in exhibits published in the German media – this is also a replica of corresponding illustrations from the cold war period – comparing NATO’s and Russia’s arms budgets and weapons. According to these illustrations, in 2015, poor “helpless” NATO had spent around US $861 billion on its arms buildup – just about thirteen times Russia’s military budget (US $66 billion). NATO nations – without the USA – are spending nearly the same amount per capita on their armed forces (US $440) vs. Russia’s US $470, while the USA, alone, spends US $1,870 per capita on its military. 800,000 Russian soldiers are up against 3.41 Million NATO soldiers, 750 Russian fighter jets and 1,400 ground combat aircraft are up against NATO’s 4,000 fighter jets and 4,600 ground combat aircraft.

In a warfare situation, a single Russian aircraft carrier would have to take on 27 NATO aircraft carrier, 100 Russian frigates, destroyers or corvettes would confront 260 of the corresponding NATO warships, 60 Russian submarines would be confronting 154 NATO subs. Only in the domain of multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) and self-propelled guns (SPGs) would Russia hold a slight advantage over the western alliance. However, in modern warfare, the military advantage these weapons represent can be regarded as of subordinate significance.[6]

Germany’s Global Role
That the EU would cooperate more closely with NATO was not among the least the decisions taken at the Warsaw summit. This would be the case, above all, in areas where the EU is either significantly weaker than the USA, or where it wishes support. The former case applies to the domain of cyberwarfare and intelligence activities to be expanded, while the latter applies to the EU warding off migrants, wherein the military alliance will lend support. It also stipulates that the EU’s arms industry should be further bolstered and can possibly expect new orders from the United States.

This reinforcement of cooperation was taken after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had announced that Germany has become a “central player” on the world stage and takes on a “global role,” while the USA has “stumbled” and “the illusion of a unipolar world” faded.[7] Steinmeier, together with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, additionally call for an excessive EU arms buildup permitting the European confederation to become an “independent” and “global” actor – also “independent” of the USA.[8]

The Next Major Conflict
While the EU and NATO are intensifying cooperation, the United States is heating up the next major conflict. As was announced late last week, Washington will be stationing the Thaad missile defense system in South Korea,[9] allegedly aimed at stopping North Korean missiles. In reality, however, this sophisticated radar technology permits the USA to spy on China from South Korean territory. The missile defense system also weakens China’s retaliatory capabilities and thereby Chinese defenses. With this, Washington is heating up the major conflict with China, which has been growing more critical all along.[10]

[1] Wie die NATO in Osteuropa Flagge zeigt. 08.07.2016.
[2] Johannes Leithäuser, Michael Stabenow: Gegen den Warschauer Takt. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09.07.2016.
[3] Joint statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of Heads of State and Government. 9 July 2016, Warsaw, Poland.
[4] See Abschreckung und Dialog.
[5] Konrad Schuller: Die Lücke von Suwalki. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.07.2016.
[6] 28 Nato-Staaten im Vergleich mit Russland. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09.07.2016.
[7] See Auf Weltmachtniveau.
[8] See The European War Union.
[9] Proteste Russlands und Chinas gegen Raketenschild. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09.07.2016.
[10] See Ostasiens Mittelmeer (I) and Ostasiens Mittelmeer (II).

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