World

NATO Unveils Plan for Fighting Russia After Trump Administration Calls for More Planes and Ships

Defense ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) met Thursday to hash out future plans for how to deal with adversaries.

High on the agenda was Russia’s growing threat to Europe. Defense ministers announced that they would have 30 troop battalions, 30 aircraft squadrons and 30 warships ready to deploy in just 30 days to combat any future threats.

“We have decided further steps to strengthen our shared security and boost defense and deterrence against threats from any direction,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after the meeting.

The announcement came following reports that the Trump administration had been pushing its NATO allies to boost their defenses to prepare for a potential war with Russia, including adding more planes and ships. NATO members had already been launching simulated naval and cyberattacks to prepare their responses should Russia attempt to breach their maritime borders or online systems.

As Russia’s revanchist tendencies appear to grow following its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, NATO and its allies have been especially concerned with how to protect those countries from Russia. NATO allies like the Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, all of which border Russia, have serious reason to be concerned about a potential attack from Russia. After all, Russian troops or Russian-backed separatists have already occupied territory in Russia’s neighbors Georgia and Ukraine.

In April, live-missile exercises from Russia forced Latvia to close its commercial airspace over the Baltic Sea. And in October 2017, officials said Russia was likely responsible for interruptions to Latvia’s mobile communications networks in the lead-up to the war games known as Zapad, which Russia and Belarus hold every four years. NATO officials said Russia had been testing its ability to carry out cyberattacks in the Baltics.

Russian-backed hackers were also allegedly in charge of testing their ability to hit energy systems in the Baltic states with a cyberattack.

NATO has 29 members, including the United States. Article 5 of NATO, the article that lays out the terms for collective defense, stipulates that an attack on one member constitutes an attack on all members. That means the United States and other NATO members would be obligated to defend any NATO ally if Russia were to invade or attack.

President Donald Trump has been tough on NATO and called into question the usefulness of U.S. contributions to the organization. The Department of Defense, however, continues to reiterate the U.S.'s commitment to NATO.