NATO ready for clash with Russia – top official
NATO is prepared to fight Russia if a direct conflict erupts between the two, Rob Bauer, the chairman of the alliance’s Military Committee, said on Saturday.
In an interview with Portuguese RTP TV, when asked whether the US-led military bloc is ready for a direct confrontation with Russia, Bauer unequivocally stated, “We are.”
The official noted that when hostilities broke out in Ukraine in February 2022, NATO already had a number of battle groups along its eastern flank. The bloc’s leaders decided to create four more during a June 2022 summit in Madrid, in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, Bauer added.
“I think that’s an important message for the Russians, that our posture has changed, to show them that we are ready if they would have an idea to come to NATO.”
He pointed out that if there is any red line regarding relations between Moscow and the military bloc, “it is the Russians crossing the line of our territory in NATO.”
Bauer went on to say that for decades, many NATO nations thought they were the ones who decided when and where to deploy their forces, but the Ukraine conflict had been a gamechanger. Russia launched its military operation “at the moment of their choosing, so we have to be much more ready, we have no time to prepare, because it’s up to them when they come,” the official stated.
He also described Western shipments of modern arms to Ukraine as “not escalatory.”
“The fact that your enemy has better weapons, it’s not the problem of the enemy, that’s your problem,” he said, adding that the West and Russia both face the need to ramp up efforts to manufacture weapons and equipment – and NATO countries need to have a debate on military production priorities. This means “talking about a war-time economy, but in peacetime,” which, he acknowledged, will be difficult.
Russia views NATO forces deployed near its borders as a threat. In December 2021, Moscow submitted draft documents on security guarantees to NATO and Washington, demanding that Ukraine be barred from entering the alliance, and insisting that the bloc should retreat to the borders as they stood in 1997. This overture was rebuffed.
On Wednesday, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Washington has so far seen “absolutely no indication” that Moscow has designs to attack the bloc’s territory.