Don’t look now, but the West may be standing up to Putin with real power. NATO’s Allied Land Command is up and running and conducting drills, Stars and Stripes reports:
NATO’s Allied Land Command has finally reached full operational capacity, LANDCOM commander Lt. Gen. John Nicholson said at the close on Wednesday of NATO’s largest training exercise since the end of the Cold War.
One aim of the exercise, Trident Lance, was to test how well a fully operational LANDCOM — which is charged with improving the effectiveness and reaction time of the alliance’s land forces — could respond to an international crisis. In this case, the scenario dealt with the hypothetical invasion of NATO member Estonia, which borders Russia at NATO’s northeastern corner.
NATO is also investing in making sure this force is equipped with top of the line tech that allows for better communication and command.
On top of this demonstration of its military capabilities, the West is pushing Russia to adhere to its 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty obligations on medium and long range missiles. For years, Russia has been flagrantly violating the restrictions, including by building and deploying road-mobile medium-range missile launch platforms. For once, Washington and Brussels seem to recognize that it isn’t enough to simply ask Putin nicely to play by the rules (as it did in July by formally charging Russia with violating the treaty by conducting a medium-range test).
Indeed, the West may actually demonstrate enough resolve to teach the Kremlin that it will back up law with real consequences. The NYT:
“Our strategy has two potential ends,” Brian P. McKeon, a senior Pentagon policy official, told a House Armed Services subcommittee. “First, we seek to convince Russia to return to compliance because we believe preserving the treaty is in our mutual security interest. If Russia does not return to compliance, our end will be to ensure that Russia gains no significant military advantage from its violation.”
The Pentagon options, Mr. McKeon said, include deploying new defenses against cruise missiles; exploring whether to deploy American ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe, a step that would also be counter to the treaty; and building up other military capabilities.
Meanwhile, Western powers are also working to build Europe’s missile defense capabilities. Finally, it looks like the West is increasing its hard power approach to Putin.