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30 Mar, 2024 11:36

No ‘direct threat’ from Russia – senior NATO officer

Admiral Rob Bauer has suggested the bloc should get better prepared, while Moscow has dismissed attack speculation as “utter nonsense”
No ‘direct threat’ from Russia – senior NATO officer

There are no signs that Russia is gearing up for an attack on NATO, the head of the bloc’s Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, has said.

Speaking to reporters in Riga on Friday, Bauer, who commanded the Dutch armed forces between 2017 and 2021, said that “there is no indication that Russia is planning to attack any NATO member state.”

While stressing that he did not think “there is a direct threat,” he suggested that “Russia’s ambitions go beyond Ukraine.” Bauer said that meant that the US-led military bloc should be better prepared for a possible stand-off.

He also weighed in on the upcoming US election in November, which is almost certain to be a re-match between former US President Donald Trump and incumbent Joe Biden. The admiral said that he was not afraid of a Trump victory, explaining that the republican's controversial statements about NATO were directed not at the bloc itself, but rather at the fact that some members need to ramp up defense spending.

Speaking at a campaign rally last month, Trump recalled a conversation with an unnamed NATO leader while he was in office. According to his account, he told his counterpart that he would not protect his country from Russia unless it pays its defense bills.

Many NATO states have for years struggled to reach an agreed threshold of 2% of GDP for defense spending, but the process gained momentum after the start of the Ukraine crisis in 2014 and especially after Russia’s military campaign against Kiev began in 2022.

According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, a total of 18 members of the bloc are expected to meet the guideline in 2024. The NATO chief has also said that European members of the bloc will invest $380 billion in defense this year.

This comes as numerous Western leaders have warned in recent weeks that Russia could unleash an attack on NATO within a few years. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed speculation that Moscow could launch an offensive against the US-led military bloc as “utter nonsense” designed to “beat the money out” of the populations of Western countries.

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