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NATO's military response to Russia

Published Friday, February 19, 2016

NATO adopted a Readiness Action Plan in response to the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis. This note explains the main elements with a focus on the UK military contribution.

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NATO adopted a two-pronged response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine 2014. These are divided into what it describes as Assurance and Adaptive measures.

The Assurance measures seek to reassure the members of the Alliance that border Russia. These include bolstering air policing and air surveillance in the Baltics and along NATO’s eastern flank and a more visible military presence in these states by means of additional exercises and training.

The Adaptive measures seek to adapt NATO’s force structure to strengthen the ability of the Alliance to respond to any crisis that may occur. These include significantly enlarging the existing Response Force, creating a new ‘spearhead’ force of around 5,000 troops, and pre-positioning equipment in member states along the eastern flank.

Some of these measures were adopted in April 2014 as part of NATO’s immediate response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. They crystallised into the Readiness Action Plan adopted at NATO’s Summit in September 2014. The Plan reflects what NATO says is the “most significant strengthening” of its collective defence in decades. Further measures have been adopted at subsequent Defence Ministers meetings. The next NATO summit is in July 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.

Main elements of the Readiness Action Plan

  • enlarging the existing Response Force from 13,000 to 40,000 troops
  • creating a new very high readiness force (VJTF) of around 5,000 troops
  • appointing a country, drawn from a pool of seven nations, to lead this force
  • Pre-positioning equipment in Baltics and Eastern Europe
  • Establishing six small headquarters in Baltic and eastern European states
  • Speeding up the decision-making for the Response force


UK military contribution

  • Three deployments of Typhoon aircraft to the Baltic Air Policing mission in 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • Contribute a battle group of 1,000 personnel to the VJTF each year from 2016 into next decade
  • Lead the VJTF in 2017 with up to 3,000 personnel and on rotation thereafter
  • 4,000 troops committed to NATO exercises in 2015
  • Sentry aircraft conducted air surveillance flights over Poland and Romania in 2014
  • Warships patrolling Baltic Sea
  • A frigate and a destroyer to be deployed to NATO's standing maritime group 1 in 2016, for the first time since 2010


Commons Briefing papers CBP-7276

Author: Louisa Brooke-Holland

Topics: Armed forces, Defence policy, Military operations, NATO, Russia

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