'No Restrictions': NATO to Take More Aggressive Stance Against Russia

NATO has "no restrictions" when it comes to deploying its forces in eastern Europe to respond to Russian aggression, the U.S.-led military alliance's deputy secretary general, Mircea Geoană, said Sunday.

Geoană, who was also a former president of Romania, made the comments in an interview with the AFP news agency published during a trip where he met with lawmakers from members of the alliance in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sunday and Monday.

They were attending the Spring Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Russia and NATO agreed on the 1997 Founding Act to work to prevent a build-up of armed forces in agreed regions of Europe, including eastern and central Europe.

NATO reservists Voru
Reservists from the 2nd Estonian Infantry Brigade take part in maneuvers during NATO exercise Hedgehog on the Estonian Latvian border on May 26, 2022 in Voru, Estonia. NATO has “no restrictions” when it comes to deploying its forces in eastern Europe, the U.S-led military alliance’s Deputy General said Sunday. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

But Geoană told AFP that Russia had decided to violate the agreement by invading Ukraine and not have regular dialogue with the alliance.

"They [Russia] took decisions, they made obligations there not to aggress neighbours, which they are doing, and to have regular consultations with NATO, which they don't," he said.

"Now we have no restrictions to have robust posture in the eastern flank and to ensure that every square inch of NATO's territory is protected by Article 5 and our allies."

Article 5 is the NATO agreement that stipulates if one member is attacked, it is attack on all of them and other members must intervene militarily.

Geoană did not provide any further details of a planned NATO deployment but said there would be "a robust, flexible and sustainable presence" in eastern Europe.

Newsweek contacted the Russian foreign ministry for comment.

Finland and Sweden, both historically non-military aligned countries, this month applied to become members of the alliance, despite Russia threatening military and political reprisals if they join.

On May 21, only three days after Finland sent its application to join NATO, Russia halted natural gas exports to the Nordic country, with which it shares an 800-mile border.

For Finland and Sweden to formally join NATO, all 30 members states' parliaments would need to ratify it. However, Turkey has said it would block the NATO bids.

Swedish and Finnish diplomats met in Turkey on May 25 to try and reach a deal that would see Ankara approve the membership of the two Nordic states.

Defense ministers from the NATO countries are due to meet in Madrid in mid-June to discuss the presence of the alliance in the Baltic states in Europe, as well as Finland and Sweden's applications. Both Nordic countries will be joining the summit in the Spanish capital, to mark Spain's 40th year as a NATO member.

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are pushing for NATO to deploy more troops in the region and establish large headquarters in each of three countries.

Correction 05/30/22, 01:20 p.m. ET: This article has been corrected to change Mircea Geoană's title to deputy secretary general