This is what Joe Biden calls an “Otanization” of Europe. The United States will “strengthen their military positioning in Europe” so that NATO can “respond to threats coming from all directions”, declared the American president this Wednesday, June 29 during the NATO summit organized in Spain , in Madrid, where the war in Ukraine was at the heart of this meeting.
During this summit of the Military Alliance “which marks history”, according to him, Joe Biden announced a reinforced presence of American soldiers and capabilities in Spain, Poland, Romania, the Baltic States, the United Kingdom Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon, however, wanted to say, during a short press conference this Wednesday morning, how many additional American soldiers would be deployed in total. In terms of numbers, the detail was communicated by Washington for Germany (625 men or women) and Italy (65). Joe Biden also announced that the United States would increase the number of its destroyers at the Rota naval base in Spain from 4 to 6. “We are there” and “we are proving that NATO is more necessary than ever,” declared the American president, alongside the organization’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.
Joe Biden recalled that the United States had already deployed this year “20,000 additional military personnel in Europe to reinforce our lines in response to aggressive Russian initiatives”, which has already increased the number of Americans to more than 100,000 stationed on the mainland.
The first world power will also establish in Poland “a permanent headquarters of the 5th American army corps”. It will be, said the Pentagon, the first “permanent” American presence on the “eastern flank” of NATO. “We will maintain an additional brigade” which will be based in Romania, also declared Joe Biden, referring to the figure of 3,000 fighters and 2,000 other military personnel.
He also announced “additional deployments in the Baltic States”, the Pentagon specifying that this would concern artillery, aviation, anti-aircraft defense as well as the presence of elite troops. At the gates of Russia, the United States also promises to “intensify exercises with our” Baltic allies, according to a press release from the Pentagon.
During a short speech, Joe Biden further indicated that Washington would “send two additional squadrons” of F-35 fighter planes to the United Kingdom, based at Lakenheath in the west of the country, and “position additional air defense capabilities” in Germany and Italy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “wanted a ‘Finlandization’ of Europe”, that is to say an evolution of the member countries of the Alliance towards the position of neutrality which has historically been that of the Nordic country, but he obtains on the contrary a “‘Otanization’ of Europe”, welcomed Joe Biden. Finland, historically non-aligned, and Sweden are in fact preparing to join NATO, after the lifting of Turkey’s veto on Tuesday evening, while the Alliance has displayed almost flawless unity since the start of the war in Ukraine.
In addition, the NATO countries will approve in Madrid a reinforcement of their forces on the eastern flank of the Alliance and decide to increase the number of their high-readiness forces “well above” 300,000 soldiers. to deal with the Russian threat. “This is the most significant overhaul of our collective defense since the Cold War,” said Jens Stoltenberg.
Eight battlegroups were created. They are based in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Some will be reinforced “up to brigade level” – tactical units of 3,000 to 5,000 men, said Jens Stoltenberg. Germany, the leader of the battle group based in Lithuania, has announced its intention to increase its capacity to the level of a brigade, but the bulk of the troops will remain stationed in the country.
Units are “pre-designated” in other member countries of the Alliance to intervene in countries where battle groups are based and where heavy weapons have been pre-positioned, explained the NATO secretary general. The Alliance will also “transform its 40,000-strong Response Force” and increase the number of its high-readiness forces “well above” 300,000 troops, he added. “By doing this, we are providing a credible deterrent whose objective is not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent Russia or any other potential adversary from attacking an allied country,” he insisted. “I am convinced that President Putin understands the consequences of an attack on a NATO country,” he added.
Allies have pledged to devote 2% of their GDP to defense spending in 2024, but only nine of the 30 members have reached this target in 2022 (Greece, United States, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, United Kingdom, Latvia , Croatia and Slovakia). France is at 1.90%, Italy at 1.54%, Germany at 1.44% and Spain, the host country of the summit, is second to last on the list at 1.01%, ahead of Luxembourg (0.58%), according to data published Monday by NATO.
For its part, France, designated as Romania’s “framework nation” in NATO’s collective defense system, has been providing anti-aircraft defense for the port of Constanta since May 2022 through the main allied base in Romania, Capul Midia. Located between the port of Constanta and Ukraine, it is home to some 2,600 Romanian, American, French, Belgian, Italian and British soldiers with their armored vehicles, helicopters and Eurofighters, recalls Les Echos.
Since May 8, this military base has been home to one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment in the French army: the Mamba ground-to-air defense system, the equivalent of the American Patriot. “Implemented by a hundred airmen, the Mamba medium-range ground-to-air system (…) can provide a bubble of protection for the benefit of the forces operating in the area”, indicated the French general staff in a press release published on May 19.
This system, connected to the Romanian defense system and to that of NATO, which commands it, must protect the city of Constanta and its port from all air attacks, which is now the only Black Sea outlet for Ukrainian goods since blocking the port of Odessa, as well as the first Romanian refinery and the adjacent military base of Mihail Kogalniceanu.
The French armies have been present in Romania since February 26, 2022. But this emergency deployment of some 500 soldiers has since been made permanent, alternating with a Belgian or Dutch company. “It is one of the four additional battalions deployed by NATO on the eastern flank of Europe” with Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria, specifies the press release from the French general staff. This deployment is part of “the strengthening of NATO’s deterrent and defensive posture on the eastern flank of Europe”. France will confirm at the NATO summit the permanent dispatch of more than 1,000 men for a mandate of at least four years. As Les Echos points out, in agreement with the Romanian general staff, it has been decided that the French will settle on the Cincu site, in the center of the country.