NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the formation of a common EU Armed Forces would weaken NATO and “divide Europe.” According to him, such steps of the European Union in the field of defense “will never replace NATO.” Earlier, representatives of the European power structures stated the need to form the EU army and defense system, as well as the need for greater independence from Washington and the alliance. According to experts, such conversations “greatly annoy” NATO, led by the United States, which does not want to lose its influence in Europe. Analysts believe that they are likely to nip in the bud all attempts by Brussels to create its own armed forces.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the creation of a common military force by the European Union would weaken the North Atlantic Alliance and “divide Europe.”
“Any attempt to create parallel structures, duplicate governance structures will weaken our joint ability to work together, because with limited resources, we need to prevent duplication of efforts,” he told The Telegraph.
According to Stoltenberg, the steps taken by Europe in the field of defense “will never replace NATO.”
“We must ensure the unity of Europe and North America. Any attempt to weaken the connection between North America and Europe will not only weaken NATO, but also divide Europe, ”the Alliance Secretary General explained.
In addition, according to him, it is also “partly a matter of money.”
“80% of our defense spending comes from non-EU allies. The point here is geography – Norway and Iceland in the north, Turkey in the south, the USA, Canada and Great Britain in the west play an extremely important role in the defense of Europe … And besides, it is also about politics. After all, any weakening of transatlantic ties will also divide Europe, ”the politician said.
Earlier, on September 2, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell called the obvious “the need to strengthen European protection.”
“Never (this need. – RT) was not as obvious as it is today – after the events in Afghanistan, ”he told reporters upon his arrival at an unofficial meeting of EU defense ministers in Ljubljana.
Borrell also revealed details regarding the idea of creating its own EU troops. According to him, now combat groups “are formed on a national basis, every month such a group is ready to take action, but in fact it never came to that.”
“We should strive to create something more stable and well-organized, forming contingents not on the basis of one country every month, but by joint efforts and on an ongoing basis,” explained the head of European diplomacy.
- EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell
- © Jean-François Badia / Poole
After the meeting, Borrell said that 5,000 troops for the EU’s own Armed Forces is a “real figure” which military experts, according to him, “consider sufficient to carry out tasks of a new type in the conditions of modern war.”
“On this issue (the creation of the European Armed Forces. – RT) there is no complete unity yet. If I said that today everyone unambiguously agreed with this, it would be untrue, – he said. – The real decision will be made in November, and I know that the idea (creation. – RT) the forces of the initial deployment, this mobilization potential in the form of sufficiently powerful armed forces, will be an important part (of the strategic foreign policy concept. – RT) “Strategic compass”.
Striving for autonomy
It is worth noting that Borrell also spoke about the “Strategic Compass” in his article published on September 1 in The New York Times. The diplomat explained that this European concept will be designed to define the EU’s security and defense ambitions for the next five to ten years.
According to Borrell, the “more strategically autonomous and combat-ready” European Union will be able to better respond to the challenges that arise outside the union. In addition, the head of European diplomacy considers it necessary to invest more in the security sector. In particular, it is planned to allocate $ 9.4 billion for research and development of new technologies in this area over the next six years.
Borrell’s article says that the EU was prompted to take such steps by the situation around the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. According to him, despite the military support from the EU and the implementation of the economic assistance program by the Union (which in total cost $ 20.3 billion), “in the end, the time, date and nature of the withdrawal (of RT) was determined in Washington. “
“We Europeans have found that we are dependent on US decisions not only on the evacuation of people from Kabul airport, but also on a wider range of issues,” Borrell wrote, stressing that this should serve as a wake-up call “to everyone who cares about the North Atlantic alliance”.
On September 1, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, also spoke about the need for Europe to be more autonomous, including in the field of security.
“We do not need a second Afghanistan to understand that the EU must strive for greater autonomy and ability to act,” he wrote on his Twitter, clarifying that such “strategic autonomy” will require work, including on “security capabilities”.
European influence will be our greatest challenge.
We don’t need another #Afghanistan to understand that the EU must strive for greater autonomy and ability to act.
Our strategic autonomy requires working on our economic strength, neighborhood and security capabilities. # BSF2021pic.twitter.com / M9Nyp1n5of
– Charles Michel (@eucopresident) September 1, 2021
The next day, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer also announced that the EU should become more independent and independent, drawing conclusions from the situation in Afghanistan. According to her, Europe showed “almost no resistance to the decision of the United States to withdraw its troops due to the lack of its own capacity.”
“The time has come for the EU member states to contribute to the security and defense policy of the union,” the German minister said on her Twitter.
We are negotiating with # interested EU countries on these topics. It is time for member states to move forward to enable the EU to act from a security and defense policy perspective. 9/9
– A. Kramp-Karrenbauer (@akk) September 2, 2021
The need to draw conclusions from the operation in Afghanistan was also reported by the head of the Spanish Ministry of Defense, Margarita Robles. She called it “a hard lesson” for Europe, which should be “a turning point in the way the European Union plans to ensure security.”
“Will be nipped in the bud”
According to experts, such statements by European officials and politicians about the need to strengthen the defense system of the European Union and create their own armed forces “greatly annoy” the leadership of the North Atlantic Alliance.
“NATO is a powerful bureaucratic organization that does not want to lose its significance and monetary benefits. After all, when creating its own forces, Europe will no longer need NATO services so badly and may simply stop investing colossal resources in the alliance. But most importantly, it will cease to resignedly agree with the bloc’s foreign policy line, which is mainly determined by Washington. Therefore, any steps towards the creation of a European Armed Forces are perceived by the alliance and the United States with hostility, “said Nikita Danyuk, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of the RUDN University, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia, in an interview with RT.
- NATO headquarters
- © Francois Lenoir
Sergey Ermakov, a leading expert of the RISS Research Coordination Center, adheres to a similar position.
“If the Europeans refuse American services and the services of the alliance, the bloc will wither away and become an unnecessary duplicate organization. In addition, now there will be no official solidarity, which NATO loves to talk about and which they so rarely demonstrate, “the analyst explained in a conversation with RT.
Speaking about the “disunity of Europe” in the context of the issue of creating an EU army, Stoltenberg means “two camps” existing in the European Union, Yermakov added.
“One of them is the transatlantists, who say that the Europeans cannot respond to the main challenges to security and, moreover, collective defense alone, without the help of the United States and NATO. The second camp is those who stand for the independence of the EU, which can defend itself, given that there are no special threats to Europe from other countries, which means that there is no need for such close coordination with NATO, ”the expert says.
He predicts that the divisions between the two camps in the EU will escalate more and more.
“This is obvious against the backdrop of the clear flight of the United States from Afghanistan, which was the impetus for new discussions on whether Europe should count on the support of the United States, given that Washington has in fact abandoned its allies in the Islamic republic. For the Europeans, this situation showed that the United States is not as strong, not as competent as they declare. Processes aimed at obtaining greater European autonomy from the United States will become more evident in the near future. Attempts will indeed be made to create a full-fledged European army and a system of its own security, ”the analyst said.
However, political analysts agree that all attempts by the EU to achieve greater independence for NATO and the United States “will be nipped in the bud.”
“The Americans and the NATO command are interested in European allies. And the last thing they would like is the collapse of the alliance. For Americans, the fall of NATO would spell the end of their model of global hegemony. The United States is certainly not ready for this, ”Ermakov explained.
- Military Germany
- © Hauke-Christian Dittrich / POOL
In turn, Danyuk is confident that “no one will let Europe off the military hook.”
“There is an unspoken agreement between the European Union and the alliance: the EU provides its territory for NATO and largely agrees with the bloc’s foreign policy in exchange for ensuring security. Europe thus transferred most of its sovereignty into the hands of Washington and the leadership of the alliance, ”the expert noted.
In his opinion, the United States and NATO do not intend to lose such influence.
“They will do everything possible to prevent this from happening. It can even come to threats and attempts to remove from the political arena those European politicians who advocate the creation of their own EU troops and an autonomous security system in Europe, ”Danyuk concluded.