BRUSSELS – NATO is crafting its new military plans assuming Moscow will return.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Admiral Rob Bauer, chairman of NATO’s military committee, said that although most of Russia’s ground forces are fighting in Ukraine, he believes Kremlin forces are still a threat.
« We are convinced that the Russians will reconstitute themselves, » he said. « And therefore, the plans are not based on the actual state of the Russian military, but the state of the Russian military before they attacked Ukraine. »
Russia, Bauer said, « will learn lessons from that war » and NATO « will continue to consider it a serious threat ». This includes in the seas, air and space, where Russian forces « are still very, very capable », as well as nuclear capabilities.
« We should never underestimate the Russians and their ability to bounce back, as they have demonstrated in history a couple of times, » he added.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday, Western alliance leaders will meet in Vilnius, where they will sign historic new regional military plans and discuss ways to boost defense investment as Russia continues its war in Ukraine.
Speaking of NATO’s new military plans, Bauer underlined how the summit will mark the beginning of a long process of implementation.
“We have to go and do our job – to reach the greatest number of forces with greater readiness, we have to train against the plans, we have to buy the skills we need,” he said, “and that will take time.”
The execution of the plans ranges from increased recruitment to ensuring the production of sufficient weapons and ammunition, along with increased resources dedicated to defense.
« We need more money, collectively, to pay for this, » Bauer said. Furthermore, NATO’s new model for high readiness forces will require « making sure that nations have a mechanism in place to increase the number of personnel available for the armed forces ».
When asked about the state of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, the admiral dismissed a narrative of disappointment with the Ukrainian forces.
« It is extremely difficult, this type of operation, » stressed the president. « I think the way they’re doing it is commendable, » he said, « and I think they’re—for good reasons—cautious in some places. »