Not new Cold War... but similar, says UK’s man at NATO

© Radu Sigheti
The current buildup of forces in Europe is not a reprise of the Cold War, but the basic concepts are the same, the UK’s representative to NATO has claimed in an apparently contradictory statement.

In an interview with Defense News published on Tuesday, Alex Thomson – who took up the role in 2014 – attempted to explain the doctrine of “modern deterrence” in relation to Russia.

I think modern deterrence is referred to in order to emphasize this is not a return to the Cold War,” he argued, before adding the “basic concepts of deterrence haven’t changed.

Referring to a forthcoming NATO conference he argued: “The way we choose to implement it in order to dissuade potential adversaries from doing bad things, persuade them that the costs outweigh the benefits, are going to be, and you’ll see this at Warsaw, really quite innovative.

He emphasizes that NATO doctrine would be “light, mobile, responsive” with a “heavy emphasis on situational awareness, a recognition of the enduring importance of clear messaging.

He said a key difference between the modern approach and that of the decades-long bipolar standoff between the West and the Soviet Union would be a lack of “heavy divisions standing toe-to-toe as they did in the Cold War.

He also commented on more general topics including the willingness of NATO to expand itself by allowing new allies to join.

Absolutely. In fact, you will see at Warsaw a 29th ally [Montenegro] at the table. They won’t yet be more than observers, but they will be present,” he said.

I think NATO is and should remain an organization that is open to new members, because the alliance vision is of a Europe where nations are free to join the clubs they want to join,” Thomson added.