NATO Develops Plans For Military Confrontation With Russia In Baltic

11 December 2010

By Rick Rozoff

This week plans for U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization military intervention in the Baltic Sea region gained attention after information from American State Department cables released by WikiLeaks were published in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Details include the alleged military defense of new NATO members Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania against Russia by nine NATO divisions composed of troops from the U.S., Britain, Germany and Poland – as many as 100,000-200,000 or more depending on the size of the divisions – U.S. and British warships and assault forces, and warplanes from the U.S. and other NATO nations.

A determination on the contingency plan, codenamed Operation Eagle Guardian, was, according to The Guardian, "taken secretly earlier this year at the urging of the US and Germany at Nato headquarters in Belgium."

The British daily further revealed that "The decision, according to a secret cable signed by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, marks the start of a major revamp of Nato defence planning in Europe.

"The strategy has not been made public, in line with Nato's customary refusal to divulge details of its ‘contingency planning' – blueprints for the defence of a Nato member state by the alliance as a whole.

"These are believed to be held in safes at Nato's planning headquarters in Mons, Belgium," Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). [2]

An article in this series from February of 2009 warned that the Baltic Sea region is one "where most any spark could ignite a powder keg that would draw in and pit against each other the world's two major nuclear powers and immediately and ipso facto develop into a world conflict." [2]

According to a classified dispatch from the American mission to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, the top military commander of SHAPE, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, proposed adding Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to an already existing plan to intervene on behalf of Poland, and the plan was authorized by NATO's Military Committee (rather than the bloc's top civilian governing body, the North Atlantic Council) last January 22 "under a silence procedure."

Cables published by the Guardian included these excerpts:

"On January 22, NATO's Military Committee agreed to expand EAGLE GUARDIAN, the Alliance's contingency plan for the reinforcement and defense of Poland, to also include the defense and reinforcement of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania."

"[U.S.] Ambassador [to NATO Ivo] Daalder acknowledged in…meetings that Germany had initiated the proposal for expanding EAGLE GUARDIAN to include the Baltic states. The German PermRep [permanent representative: ambassador] noted that the German Chancellery and Ministry of Defense had signed off on this approach, and MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] approval should come after FM [Foreign Minister Guido] Westerwelle's full briefing on this issue." [3]

Washington also "offered to beef up Polish security against Russia" by deploying naval special forces to the Baltic Sea ports of Gdansk and Gdynia. As the British newspaper stated, "The diplomatic traffic seen by the Guardian is from US state department and US embassies worldwide, but not from Pentagon or CIA communications, meaning that the cables reveal the policy and political decision-making processes but contain little on the specifics of hard military planning." [4]

NATO "quietly endorsed" the strategy at its recently concluded summit in Lisbon, Portugal last month along with extending the Alliance's participation in the war in Afghanistan to 2014 and beyond, placing all of Europe under a U.S.-NATO interceptor missile shield, maintaining American tactical nuclear weapons in bases in five European nations, and subordinating the continent to the new U.S. cyber warfare system.

On December 3 Estonian Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo visited NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia and U.S Cyber Command headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, and met at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, "who announced the US decision to join the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn," the capital of Estonia. [5]

One didn't have to wait for WikiLeaks or the Guardian to learn the above facts. And more.

On November 4 the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported extensively on Eagle Guardian. The paper has a history of breaking crucial, and accurate, information earlier than other sources.

In February of this year it featured an article by Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich in which he spoke of arranging for NATO Response Force exercises in his country, employing a "scenario [which] would involve the allies in a defense exercise against attack from the east." The Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, used by NATO since 1996 – three years before Poland became a member of the military bloc – was suggested as a site for the war games by Klich.

The NATO Response Force is a 25,000-troop "highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and special forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly to wherever it is needed." [6]

In the summer of 2009 Gazeta Wyborcza disclosed, three weeks before announcements by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Gates on the subject [7] and "citing officials and lobbyists in Washington," that Washington was expanding interceptor missile plans from new NATO member states in Eastern Europe to other "locations including in the Balkans, Israel and Turkey." [8] Just that has transpired in the interim as, in addition to stationing a missile radar site in the Negev Desert, the U.S. conducted the largest-ever missile interception exercises with Israel in October and November of last year [9], announced plans to deploy Standard Missile-3 and anti-missile radar installations in Romania and Bulgaria, and is currently pressuring Turkey to also host missile shield facilities.

Over a month ago, more than two weeks before the NATO summit in Portugal, the Polish newspaper revealed:

"NATO already has new plans ready for the defense of Poland and the Baltic countries….The Alliance has identified the specific divisions and ports which would serve in a potential operation.

"Such contingency plans guarantee a country not only armed assistance from the Allies. They also constitute an outline of the combat operation that could be carried out on that country's territory in the event of an attack."

The paper quoted Defense Minister Klich, who refused to disclose details, "which are NATO secrets":

"After two years, contingency plans have been successfully prepared for Poland."

An unnamed source at NATO's Military Command was also quoted as saying:

"Plans for Poland were prepared this September, after consultations with the defense ministers of the Baltic countries and Poland. They encompass actions during the first phase of an operation. The plans for Poland are already quite detailed, for the Baltic countries this is a preliminary version."

Operations to intervene not only in Poland but also in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which "NATO member states are [expected] to approve…at the Lisbon summit two weeks from now," will be under the command of the NATO Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum in the Netherlands, "which is responsible for the security of Central and Eastern Europe.

"Brunssum will establish what is known as a high-readiness headquarters to directly run the operation in Poland." The plans will be overseen from NATO's main military headquarters in Europe, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

Providing the details that the Guardian stated were unavailable, the Polish source added:

"In the event of aggression against Poland, NATO plans to deploy as many as nine divisions into battle. Four of them Polish, the remainder from Western countries, including British, German, and American ones. They will be transported by all possible routes: by land, by rail, by airplane, and by sea.

"The ports meant to receive large assault units have already been named. The most important among them is Swinoujscie. This port is currently carrying out a thorough modernization using NATO money, so that it can receive large warships longer than 200 m and submerged more than 10 m.

"The port in Gdynia was also modernized with NATO assistance. Poland was very anxious for Allied troops to be able to land not just on the country's western border.

"NATO also anticipates that Western forces will be deployed to the German ports in Rostock, Wismar, Stralsund, and as a last resort, if not possible further to the east, to the port in Hamburg."

The aforementioned anonymous NATO source was also cited affirming:

"The naval units that will defend the Polish coast have been named. They are British and US warships."

Poland's air defense system "is already integrated with the NATO system" and "the Alliance has expanded the radar stations on Polish territory."

The NATO Baltic Air Policing operation launched immediately after Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the military bloc in 2004 "is also included into the NATO system." [10]

The Baltic patrols are currently being conducted by four U.S. F-15 C Eagle jet fighters, capable of being armed with four types of air-to-air weapons including Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles, and American 120 military personnel are assigned to the mission. [11] The year before the three Baltic states' incorporation into NATO, then-Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned that the patrols would entail the deployment of NATO, including American, warplanes "a three-minute flight away from St. Petersburg," Russia's second largest city.

This May Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene met with defense chief Gates at the Pentagon and said the U.S. intends to extend NATO air patrols in the area "till 2018 and beyond."

The American military aircraft are based at the Siauliai International Airport in Lithuania which contains what is effectively a U.S. and NATO strategic air base. Two years ago President George W. Bush pronounced: "It's important for the people of Lithuania to know that when the United States makes a commitment through, for example, Article 5 of the [NATO] treaty, we mean it."

On September 25 the government of Estonia completed a three-year project to upgrade the Amari Air Base to accommodate NATO warplanes. According to an Estonian government official, the base can now host "16 NATO fighters, 20 transport planes [and] up to 2,000 people per day." [12] NATO financed 35 percent of the air base's expansion and modernization.

At the expanded base's opening ceremony, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, an American expatriate and former Radio Free Europe employee, stated, "NATO will have one of the most modern air force bases in the region at its disposal" and expatiated on its purpose:

"It is obvious that a small country like Estonia would need the help of its allies in the event of a serious military crisis. Likewise, it is obvious that no matter how willing someone is to provide this help, they cannot do so without the proper infrastructure. Let's be honest: until today our ability to accept the airborne help of our allies has been extremely limited." [13]

On December 7 Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza reported that Deputy Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow confirmed the U.S., in addition to NATO commitments, will initiate three other operations: It will rotate F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighters to Polish air bases, will station C-130 Hercules military transport planes with U.S. support staff, and will deploy American special forces from Special Operations Command Europe in Stuttgart, Germany to Poland.

U.S. ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein stated that "Poland wants to implement all three projects and that it is particularly interested in the presence of F-16s. A similar declaration [was made by] by Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski." [14]

48 F-16s were sold to Poland and delivered between 2006-2008, the first deployment of the American warplanes to Eastern Europe and the largest military purchase in Poland's history.

In August of 2008 the U.S. signed an agreement with Poland which includes a "commitment for both states to come to each other's assistance in case of military threats." [15]

In April of 2009 the Polish press announced that NATO had allotted over one billion euros for the development of military infrastructure in Poland. "The modernisation of seven military airports, two sea ports, five large fuel bases (12 are planned) and six strategic long-range aerial radars has already been completed."

Additionally, NATO will equip "military airfields in Powidz, Lask and Minsk Mazowiecki with new installations to improve the logistical and defence capacity of these bases.

"Air defence headquarters are to be set up in Poznan, Warsaw and Bydgoszcz; a radio communications centre will be located in Wladyslawowo on the Baltic coast.

"A newly built training centre in Bydgoszcz should be fully equipped [with] computer devices by the end of the year (total cost EUR 40 million)." [16]

In June of 2009 Polish Defense Minister Klich disclosed that NATO would inaugurate a Joint Battle Command Centre in the northern city of Bydgoszcz where NATO has run a Joint Force Training Centre since 2004.

The defense chief said, "The Alliance has made the decision to open a new NATO cell, a new joint regiment within NATO. According to the decision, commanders from three regiments will be located in Bydgoszcz.

"In Bydgoszcz, we will have the permanent commanders of [a] battalion and other components: one of six joint mobile modules, a security component and logistics and support operators," which include approximately 200 NATO troops. Klich added "that NATO has decided to heavily invest in Poland by modernizing military infrastructure including air and sea bases." [17]

This February 27 (the now deceased) Polish President Lech Kaczynski ratified a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the U.S. for the stationing of American troops on his nation's territory. In May approximately 100 U.S. troops and six Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles arrived in the city of Morag on the Baltic Sea.

On the same day U.S. and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II agreement – April 8 – the prime minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, said that "From the perspective of [President Obama] and the U.S. the signing of the START 2 treaty has no influence on the work on the SM3 anti-missile shield." [18] He was referring to longer-range Standard Missile-3 deployments scheduled for Poland and on ships in the Baltic Sea, the main component of what Washington calls its Phased Adaptive Approach to cover all of Europe with interceptor missiles by 2018.

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) of 1990 has not been ratified by the U.S. or any of its NATO allies twenty years on. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are not signatories to the treaty and as such the U.S. and NATO could feel free to move any military equipment they choose to the three nations. There is nothing to prevent the transfer of American B61 nuclear gravity bombs from air bases in Germany to ones in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

In July Secretary of State Clinton was in Poland and signed an agreement with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Sikorski, on the stationing of U.S. interceptor missiles in the country. The two formalized a pact superseding one signed two years earlier by Sikorski and then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"According to new missile defence plans, mobile launchers incorporating SM-3 interceptors will be placed in Europe. Poland will probably station the system between 2015 and 2018."

The day before Polish Defense Ministry spokesman Janusz Sejmej made the same point, revealing that "Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said the Americans promised to bring the SM-3s here after 2015 but definitely before 2018."

In Clinton's words, "We're….NATO allies, and the United States is deeply committed to Poland's security and sovereignty. Today, by signing an amendment to the ballistic missile defense agreement, we are reinforcing this commitment. The amendment will allow us to move forward with Polish participation in hosting elements of the phased adaptive approach to missile defense in Europe." [19]

Since U.S. warplanes took over the current four-month rotation of the NATO Baltic air patrol on September 1, America has continued military exercises in the area.

On September 13 thirteen NATO member states and partners began this year's annual Northern Coasts naval exercise in the Baltic Sea. Over 4,000 military personnel, more than 60 ships, and planes and helicopters from the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Sweden participated in the largest exercise ever staged in Finnish waters, where last year's Loyal Arrow 2 NATO war games included "the biggest air force drill ever in the Finnish-Swedish Bothnia Bay."

A week after Northern Coasts 2010 began, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, from where American special forces personnel are to be deployed to Poland, launched the Jackal Stone 10 multinational special forces exercise at the 21st Tactical Airbase in Swidwin, Poland, then moved to two other locations in Lithuania. 1,300 special operations troops from the U.S., Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Romania and Ukraine participated, the first time that special operations units of the seven countries have engaged in joint maneuvers. [20]

The Guardian announced on December 6 that the first military exercises under the rubric of Operation Eagle Guardian are to be held next year in the Baltic sea region. Nine NATO divisions, the 25,000-troop NATO Response Force, U.S. special forces, U.S. and British warships, squadrons of American F-16s transferred from the Aviano Air Base in Italy, and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Standard Missile-3 interceptors are in the Baltic region or soon will be.

It's not difficult to determine in relation to what contingencies – and against which country – the Pentagon and NATO are preparing armed intervention on a major scale.

1) The Guardian, December 6, 2010
2) Baltic Sea: Flash Point For NATO-Russia Conflict
Stop NATO, February 27, 2009 baltic-sea-flash-point-for-nato- russia-conflict

3) The Guardian, December 6, 2010
4) The Guardian, December 6, 2010
5) Defence Professionals, December 7, 2010
6) North Atlantic Treaty Organization

7) U.S. Expands Global Missile Shield Into Middle East, Balkans
Stop NATO, September 11, 2009 u-s-expands-global-missile-shield- into-middle-east-balkans

8) Agence France-Presse, August 27, 2009
9) Israel: Forging NATO Missile Shield, Rehearsing War With Iran
Stop NATO, November 5, 2009 israel-forging-nato-missile- shield-rehearsing-war-with-iran

10) Published in English at:
Lithuania Tribune, November 18, 2010 / nine-possible-divisions-for- defence-of-baltic-states-and-poland

11) Baltic States: Pentagon's Training Grounds For Afghan and Future Wars
Stop NATO, September 30, 2010 baltic-states-pentagons-training-grounds-for-afghan- and-future-wars

12) U.S. Consolidates New Military Outposts In Eastern Europe
Stop NATO, September 23, 2010 u-s-consolidates-new-military- outposts-in-eastern-europe

13) Ibid
14) Gazeta Wyborcza, December 7, 2010,76842,8778799, Wikileaks_o _planach_NATO_w_Polsce__Moskwa__zaklopotana_.html
15) Bloomberg News, August 15, 2008
16) Poland: U.S. Moves First Missiles, Troops Near Russian Border
Stop NATO, May 29, 2010 poland-u-s-moves-first-missiles-troops- near-russian-border

17) Ibid
18) NATO: Pentagon's Gateway Into Former Warsaw Pact, Soviet Nations
Stop NATO, April 15, 2010 nato-pentagons-gateway-into-former- warsaw-pact-soviet-nations

19) Clinton Renews U.S. Claims On Former Soviet Space
Stop NATO, July 7, 2010 clinton-renews-u-s-claims-on-former-soviet-space

20) U.S. Consolidates New Military Outposts In Eastern Europe
Stop NATO, September 23, 2010 u-s-consolidates-new-military-outposts-in-eastern-europe


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