NATO planned bloc’s expansion near Russia's borders years ago
NATO's expansion plans go way back, and the war in Ukraine is just the green ticket.
The head of NATO's Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, stated on Saturday that NATO began planning its expansion near Russia's borders several years ago.
Earlier on Saturday, the NATO Military Committee met in Estonia, where Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Christopher Cavoli outlined to NATO member countries his strategic considerations for NATO's efforts on the eastern flank, among other things.
"We’re talking about the biggest overhaul of our military structures since 1949. The planning for that started several years ago, but now we’re implementing it," Bauer said at a press conference.
NATO leaders agreed on a plan for a significant build-up of the alliance's forces at the end of June, on the eastern flank by 2023, amid Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
The alliance revealed plans to increase the number of prepared forces on the eastern flank to more than 300,000 soldiers in the near future. In addition, it intends to increase the composition of combat groups to the brigade level.
Moreover, NATO countries pledged to increase defense spending.
Read next: WP: NATO had begun to supply Kiev with weapons in late 2021
NATO is closely collaborating with the defense sector to restock its arsenal, which has been depleted as a result of the supply of armaments to Ukraine by the bloc, according to the NATO Secretary-General.
"NATO is working closely with defense industry in order to replenish stocks for the military equipment the allies have sent to Ukraine," Stoltenberg said on the sidelines of a forum organized by US magazine Foreign Policy, adding that NATO countries were also asking defense companies to ramp up their production.
The Secretary-General added that the need for additional help for Ukraine was still urgent, and it was crucial to make sure that the bloc had adequate weapons and other equipment to stockpile and support Kiev militarily.
Germany, one of the NATO countries actively selling weapons to Ukraine, hit its cap on arms supplies to Kiev last week, according to German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht.