Sunday, 28 June 2009

A Russian View of the NRC Meeting

Itar-Tass News Agency has carried a very interesting report of the NATO Russia Council meeting.

In his speech at the meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia would brief NATO on Russia’s new national security concept and would expect NATO to do the same.

Rogozin said that NATO had responded immediately. On July 7 the Russian envoy to NATO will be invited to attend an internal seminar of high-ranking NATO experts who are responsible for developing the alliance’ s strategic concept.

“We noted and appreciated the alliance’s readiness to dialogue. We will take our return step on July 22 when a representative of the Russian Security Council arrives in Brussels to participate in a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council at an ambassador level. He will brief the alliance on a new concept of Russia’s national security,” Rogozin went on to say.

Russia and NATO agreed to resume military and political contacts, and this is another vital outcome of the Corfu meeting.

“A political will to resume military cooperation was expressed today,” Rogozin emphasized, commenting on the outcome of a ministerial meeting of the Russian-NATO Council that was held in Corfu.

This agreement to consult on strategic concepts is very interesting, and would be a real first. A commitment to transparency would be a genuine step-up in confidence building between the two sides. NATO Monitor will watch this development with interest.

NATO, Russia and Missile Defence

In the wake of the resumption of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), and in preparation for the Obama-Medvedev meeting on July 6 on arms control, it has been announced that US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen will visit Moscow to discuss missile defence.

The plan to deploy a missile defence radar and interceptor missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland was launched under former US president George W. Bush, causing relations between the two sides to plummet to a post-Cold War low. Experts have demonstrated that the proposed system of mid-course European interceptors to destroy missiles from Iran, is fundamentally flawed for that purpose. It would however be ideally placed to intercept missiles from Russia. As Russia works with the US to reduce nuclear warheads and missiles, this will increasingly become an issue.

It is certainly a major issue in the NRC, and will now be addressed directly.

"We expect missile defense issues to come up," Captain John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen told journalists after the NRC meeting this weekend.

In all this, one thing has not changed. The Bush administration tried to make missile defence a bilateral matter with Poland and the Czech Republic, angering Russia and dismaying many in NATO Europe.

The Obama administration, while claiming to consult more, will deal directly with Russia on missile defence as part of its bilateral strategic relations. NATO is, once again, the loser. Its much vaunted reputation as the preeminent venue for western security cooperation slips a little more.

State Department Briefing on NRC Meeting

The State Department gave a background briefing before the NRC meeting, with its main concern being Afghanistan. Here are the sections of the briefing on the NRC.


Also in Corfu will be a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, as I mentioned, which will mark the resumption of high-level dialogue between NATO allies and Russia. As you know, the NRC hasn’t met at this level since Russia’s military action in Georgia in August 2008. After the Secretary’s March 5th ministerial in Brussels, it was decided to resume the NRC at ambassadorial level, the perm reps in Brussels. This’ll be the first ministerial, it’ll be an informal ministerial held in Corfu. And it will also be a useful opportunity to discuss areas of potential cooperation between NATO and Russia, a genuine debate and dialogue, but also areas where we disagree. And that includes the question of Georgia and there are some others. But we hope that it’ll be a constructive meeting where we can talk about areas in which NATO and Russia can cooperate, including on terrorism, piracy, and Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Arshad Mohammed with Reuters. One just practical scheduling matter and then a more substantive question: On the scheduling, do you expect Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to, in fact, be there at the NATO-Russia ministerial? And do you expect Deputy Secretary Steinberg to have a bilat with him?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The answer to both questions is yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Got it, thanks. What – can you shed any more light on what – you know, the United States, after (inaudible) its allies at NATO for a number of years for additional troops and fewer caveats, you know, seems to have acknowledged that it is unlikely to get much more on that side of the equation. And I wonder if you can shed some light on what exactly you are looking for in concrete terms from your partners and allies on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think there’s a lot they can do. Already, at the NATO summit, of course, we did work together on military and nonmilitary aspects of cooperation. They did pledge some 3,000 troops for election support and established a NATO monitoring mission – training mission in Afghanistan, which was a very useful contribution that goes beyond the military deployments that they’ve already made, which at present constitute more than 30,000 troops. So it’s far from nothing what they’re already doing militarily.
In terms of further contributions, we will continue to hope that allies are willing to lessen the caveats and the restrictions that they placed on their forces in Afghanistan, and we’ll put a particular focus at this meeting on what they can do to help Pakistan, in particular, to bolster Pakistan’s civilian government and its efforts to combat Taliban and extremists both in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Our assumption, and that’s why we now talk about Af-Pak and Afghanistan-Pakistan together, is that you can’t really deal with Afghanistan unless you deal successfully with Pakistan.

And we’re working on this as a region now, and that’s why Special Representative Holbrooke is responsible for both countries. It really is a global theater. It’s a region of operations. The EU had a conference on Pakistan – I believe it’ll be its first one in history – last week and came up with a significant amount of money, I think $100 million, getting us towards the goal of $500 million for Pakistan. That’s an important contribution of a nonmilitary sort, the likes of which we’ll be looking to build on at the G-8 meeting.


QUESTION: Could you shed any more light on the new agreement with the Krygyz (inaudible) base? Any – there are reports that the rent has gone up three times. And I also wonder whether there has been any talk with the Russians about this, because the foreign ministry in Moscow commented on this today.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I can briefly -- I don’t know if Ian wants to add anything on that. This is a matter between Kyrgyzstan and the United States. So I don’t believe there’s been discussions with Russia about it. It’s in our common interest to use the base for transit in Afghanistan, and we’re pleased that we’ve reached an agreement with them on it. And it’s really not a Russian issue. Kyrgyzstan is a sovereign country.

QUESTION: Did you raise the amount of money that you’re paying now to the Kyrgyz Government for use of the base?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I don’t have anything on that. Ian, do you --

MR. KELLY: No, I –

NATO-Russia Council Back In Action

The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) met informally at Ministerial level Saturday in Corfu, bringing an end to the body suspension, in place since the Russian military intervention in Georgia last Summer. The NRC had been due to hold this meeting in late May, but Russia cancelled that meeting angry at NATO holding joint exercises with Georgia.

Before the meeting, James Appathurai the NATO spokesman told reporters that: It means we are back to business. It was not the business that was totally frozen. But at the political level and at the military-to-military level, I expect we will leave Corfu back to business.

In fact, the Council had only ever been suspended at the insistence of former President George Bush. Many European nations had wanted to use the NRC to talk with Russia about Georgia, but the US insisted on gesture politics instead. President Obama has sought better relations with Russia to move his arms control and disarmament agenda along. Restoration of the NATO-Russia Council was part of this policy.

The NRC has been meeting regularly at Ambassadorial level for some time. At a meeting a week ago, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin told Itar-Tass that the NRC ministerial meeting will make it possible to re-launch the full format political dialogue that was interrupted on the NATO initiative after the Russian response to Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia.” The restoration of the political dialogue will also “open the way for the resumption of military cooperation, including interaction on Afghanistan, resumption of Russia’s participation in the NATO antiterrorist operation in the Mediterranean “Active Endeavour,” as well as cooperation in the fight against pirates near the Somalia coast.

Re-engaging with Russia on Afghanistan is another key Obama objective. With Russian support the possibility grows of more robust northern supply lines into Afghanistan to provide logisitics for the ever growing US and NATO mission. Given the uncertain nature of southern supply routes through Pakistan, this is likely to be essential to any NATO success in Afghanistan.

After the meeting, outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said to journalists that: Despite the fact that there are differences ... the spirit (of the meeting) was one of wanting to cooperate.. The NATO-Russia Council, which has been in the neutral stand for almost a year, is now back in gear. The 29 ambassadors in Brussels will very quickly get back to work to agree on new procedures to make the NATO-Russia Council function more effectively.

The Russian view of the meeting was a little less positive. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that the meeting was ".. a positive development", but that there was a "frank exchange of views" at the table. As de Hoop Scheffer said, the disagreements focused on Georgia, where NATO nations refuse to accept Russian recognition of breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which they now support militarily. Scheffer said that: No one tried to paper over our differences, on Georgia for example. But we agreed not to let those disagreements bring the whole NRC train to a halt.

Lavrov, on the other hand, insisted that Russia's recognition of the separatists could not be reversed: All have to accept the new realities and the decisions taken by Russia after the conflict are irreversible.

This is a first step, but the most positive factor is that both sides have agreed that talking about problems is better than a new East-West face-off. The Bush administration wa sprepared to push NATO into a new Cold War to make a point to Russia about Georgia. Cooler heads have prevailed, and a range of issues from missile defence and arms control to Afghanistan are now on the table for future cooperation.

(Note that the full NATO web pae on the meeting can be accessed here)

Sunday, 14 June 2009

"Wise Men" Update

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports that Turkey has appointed former NATO Ambassador Umit Pamir to the 12-strong group of "wise men" that will shape the future Alliance Strategic Concept. The group will have its first meeting in July in Brussels and is tasked with creating "more partnerships in the world, to empower military capacity, to develop further relations with international organizations, to be able to execute its missions and operations, to solve the problems with Russia."

NATO Transformation Demonstrated

NATO Ministers debated the transformation of the Alliance - which essentially means developing its ability to project military power beyond Europe, and as NATO reports:

Ministers reviewed and provided guidance on a wide-range of intra-Allied initiatives, including, inter alia, Allied Ground Surveillance (AGS), strategic airlift, helicopters project and usability of forces enhancement. Two subjects were discussed in depth. First, Ministers agreed on a new structure and arrangements for NATO Response Force (NRF). It will include a core element, a command and control part, as well as forces available on call. Moreover, the new force generation mechanisms will allow for more sustainable and “user-friendly” contributions from individual Allies. Second, they focused on various ideas presented by the Secretary General to make the NATO Headquarters in Brussels better fit to serve the Alliance in the years to come.

Little detail was available in the wake of the meeting, but the best evidence for the changes the Alliance has undergone in the past decade were shown through its ongoing missions. Ministers agreed a plan to draw down forces in Kosovo, a mission that would have been controversial as 'out of area' 15 years ago, but which is now seen as traditional peace-keeping. Troop numbers in the province will decline from 15,000 to 10,000 by early 2010, if Kosovo stays calm. beyond that, if things go well, troop numbers will eventually decline to 2,500. Many obstacles remain, not least the vitriolic hatred between the Albanian and Serbian Kosovans, and the semi-recognised state of independence that Kosovo declared in 2008.

At the same time, Ministers agreed to prolong Operation Allied Protector, their naval mission off the coast of Somalia, under which NATO warships escort World Food Programme ships into Somalia, and hunt for pirates on the sea. This mission has been seen by some, even within the Alliance, as a step too far in globalising NATO - but continued hijacking of shipping in the region means that western nations see the mission as a national security interest. There are also arguments about the effectiveness of the Operation, which has displaced much piracy from Somalia to neighbouring regions, such as off Oman.

At the same time, Defence Ministers supported a US plan to reorganize the military command in Afghanistan, to better handle an influx of new troops. NATO has nearly 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, and that number will increase still more during the coming months as some 21,000 additional American soldiers arrive. NATO officials also briefed that the Alliance will send up to 10,000 extra troops for enhanced security during Afghan presidential elections this August.

Ministers met with the new US commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal, and approved plans to increase the training of Afghanistan security forces to allow them to work with the alliance in combating the rising Taliban insurgency.

These actions will have some significance for the future credibility of the Alliance - if NATO fails in Afghanistan it will find it difficult to build a role as a 'global security provider', as many in the Alliance wish. It will also have consequences for the development of the new Alliance Strategic Concept, which was ordered by the Summit of Heads and State and Government meeting in Strasbourg and Kehl earlier this year.

Poles Resent Lack of Progress on Missile Defence, Welcome New NATO Unit

Poland had a mixed time at NATO this week. The Poles, having resisted Bush administration efforts to deploy missile defence interceptors for a year, jumped enthusiastically into an agreement when Russia moved military forces into Georgia last Summer.

The Poles had calculated that they needed to attract military infrastructure from the US and from NATO into Poland, to be sure that the Alliance’s Article V guarantee would be effective against a resurgent Russia. Unfortunately for them, they had failed to allow for the election of President Obama (somewhat short-sighted in September 2008), and for changes in policy resulting from that election.

And now, the Poles are resentful that the missile defence agreement signed with the Bush administration is in limbo, and that the Patriot batteries they had asked for as a quid pro quo have not been deployed. Polish spokesman Pawel Gras told Polish media on June 12 that We're still lacking an essential, clear response as to whether the U.S. will go ahead with the shield plan. It's a fundamental question to which we need a definite answer. On our side we've met the pledges in this deal. The land is ready and waiting.

Polish and US sources have told the media that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his Polish counterpart Bogdan Klich that the Patriot batteries would be deployed in Poland on a rotating basis only for training and exercise purposes, for which they need not be armed. The Polish government is most unhappy.

This is a clear concession to Russia, which has strongly opposed both the deployment of US missile defences in Eastern Europe, and the build-up of NATO military infrastructure close to its borders. Since NATO-Russia are on a calmer trajectory, there seems little point in antagonizing Moscow with an infrastructure build-up on the NATO side.

The Poles, however, are much happier with another development this week. Klich was able to announce that NATO has decided to form a new unit, the communications regiment. Under this decision the command of one of three battalions making up the regiment will have its headquarters in Bydgoszcz. This decision, combined with Thursday's decision to allocate fresh general's posts to Polish officers, including the post of deputy commander at the strategic command of transformation headquartered in Norfolk, points to Poland's growing importance in NATO. It is the result of our participation in NATO's foreign missions.

Polish concerns about full integration into NATO were clearly uppermost in Klich’s mind, as he told a press conference that "The more allied institutions are in Poland the greater our sense of security.” This is a clever political compromise, which helps Poland and does so without annoying Russia.

However, while the US Congress has prohibited development of the missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, the outcome of the Obama administration’s missile defence review may change things, although Congress and the administration agree that the system (which has never had a realistic test and has failed 50% of its simplified tests) must be proven to work before it can be deployed. Poland will continue to press Washington on this issue, but some in Warsaw are probably beginning to realize that jumping into an agreement with an unpopular President in the last weeks of his term in office wasn’t a sensible move. For now, the communications HQ will need to satisfy their desire for proof that NATO really wants them.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Nuclear Planning Group Meets

The NATO Nuclear Planning Group used to meet for two days twice each year, with many Ambassadorial level meetings in between. Since the end of the Cold War this function of the Alliance has atrophied, and yesterday the NPG held its only meeting for 2009. It was scheduled to last one hour and all NATO had to say on the meeting was that "members of the Nuclear Planning Group held consultations on key current issues related to the Alliance’s nuclear policy."

It is known that the NPG was briefed on the US Nuclear Posture Review, which includes an International Issues Working Group, and in which the deployment of US nuclear weapons in Europe will be discussed. But the extent of consultations on this, and any other issues, remains unknown. No-one was talking about it last night.

Despite reintegration into NATO military structures, France remains outside the NPG.

US Legislators Introduce Bill to Keep US Nukes in Europe

Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) and Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA), two conservative lawmakers, have introduced the NATO First Act in the House of Representatives. They hope to be able to attach the Act to the National Defense Authorization Act as it makes it way through the House.

This Act is a conservative attempt to constrain the options of the Obama administration as it rebuilds its relationship with Russia, or as the two cosponsors put it "This legislation will continue American´s strong commitment to European defense while taking steps to strengthen our NATO allies and partner nations".

The legislation would force the President to spend $500 million on building ballistic missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, something the administration is very reluctant to go ahead with and which Russia strongly opposes.

Notably, the draft legislation would prohibit any action taken to reduce United States nuclear forces based in Europe (thought to be reduced already to around 250 free fall B61 bombs), unless required by law and the President makes a series of certifications. The cosponsors also want to spend $50 million for upgrading the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear forces in Europe. They say that:

As the United States moves forward with a Russia reset policy, it is vital that we maintain our commitment to extended deterrence. The nuclear alliance of NATO is an important component for ensuring the security of our European allies. Thus, United States forward-deployed nuclear forces shall remain based in Europe in support of the nuclear policy and posture of NATO.

It is thought that the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe may well form part of the Nuclear Posture Review and the NATO Strategic Concept Review. The US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder is known to favour this course, as are several key administration figures.

Other provisions of the legislation would prevent the administration reducing US forces in Europe, and prevent the reduction of US strategic nuclear forces under a new START agreement unless the Russians cut their tactical nuclear forces. (More detail here)

This thoroughly retrograde piece of legislation is unlikely to pass a House in which pro-Obama Democrats have a large majority, but it is indicative of the continuing support for unilateralist, Bush-era policies amongst conservatives.

Senate Confirms Stravridis as SACEUR

Admiral James Stavridis has been confirmed by the US Senate as commander of U.S. forces in Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), the top NATO military job.

At his confirmation hearing on June 2 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Stravridis gave a comprehensive overview of the main challenges that he (and the Obama administration) believe NATO faces:

As Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, one major challenge to be confronted is successfully conducting the Alliance military operations in support of Trans-Atlantic Security, including International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Kosovo Force (KFOR), OPERATION ACTIVE ENDEAVOR, and OPERATION ALLIED PROTECTOR. All of NATO’s forces, from Kosovo to ISAF to those conducting counter-piracy and other missions, deserve the best guidance and planning as well as the necessary resources and support to conduct operations. Of these operations, ISAF will likely prove to be most important to our security as well as pivotal to the Alliance’s further adaptation of strategies, capabilities, and internal processes to address the myriad of 21st century risks and threats confronting our nations. ISAF not only reflects the Alliance’s will to address the instability in a country destabilized by extremism and terrorism, but it reflects the Alliance’s will and capability to conduct operations at strategic distance outside the traditional NATO area. Success in Afghanistan will contribute to stabilizing a very important region and demonstrate that NATO in the 21st century is politically prepared and militarily capable of dealing successfully with risks and threats to Trans-Atlantic Security at strategic distances far from the borders of the US or European members.

Secondly, we face the challenge of resetting the NATO-Russia relationship and building a predictable, mutually-beneficial relationship that strengthens security. Military cooperation with Russia should figure prominently in the reset of this strategic relationship. This relationship has been stressed by policy differences over the years, and continues to be a complex relationship given the comprehensive nature of US-Russia engagement across the full spectrum of regional and global security matters. It is a strategic relationship that we must get right, and one that the Russians must demonstrate that they value in both words and deeds. There is great opportunity in the US-Russia relationship as well as great challenge. In many cases we share common strategic challenges that present opportunities for beneficial engagement, such as countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I look forward to working in support of overall US national security objectives to help forge a constructive, reliable, and predictable relationship with Russia.

Thirdly, the Heads of State and Government tasked the NATO Secretary General to develop a new strategic concept for the Alliance. The last concept was developed in 1999. A new NATO strategic concept is crucially important to forging a common perspective on the regional and global security environment; the risks and challenges we face in the 21st century such as energy security, cyber defense, or counter proliferation; the role Alliance members want NATO to play in addressing these risks based on a common perception and common goals; and the strategies, capabilities, and internal processes necessary to successfully be prepared. The Alliance will engage in debate on these important issues. My initial assessment is that the military authorities will seek a balance of collective defense and global operations. Once the political leaders reach consensus, further development of military tasks and defining capabilities will be no easy task and must be done with a realistic understanding of the means available. I look forward to contributing my military advice to the development of a new NATO Strategic Concept, a concept that will drive and frame NATO’s role in the international security sphere for years to come.

Finally, French reintegration into the NATO military structure would also be a key area of focus. As France has always been a very active partner in NATO’s ongoing operations, their reintegration is nominally only a “formal” step to capture their current participation. Their further involvement in NATOs military command structure will provide an avenue for greater involvement – especially in the planning processes.

In addition to the above stated challenges, I believe there will be additional challenges facing the next EUCOM Commander such as defense cooperation in Eastern Europe and further progress in the Balkans, especially Kosovo.

As the focus of European security continues to shift from Central to Eastern Europe, EUCOM strategic plans and activities to address the challenges in Eastern Europe and Eurasia complement NATO efforts to strengthen new Alliance partner capability in this region. EUCOM efforts to stage U.S. forces in Bulgaria and Romania will focus on military-to-military activities that continue to build the military capacities of new NATO Alliance and prospective Alliance countries along with strategic partners in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Ukraine and Georgia, considered exceptionally important countries in the EUCOM AOR, will continue the trend of bilateral relationships and capacity building. EUCOM continues to assist both countries with their NATO-oriented defense transformation and institution-building efforts, which have begun to bear fruit with peacekeeping presences in Kosovo, Operation Active Endeavor, and Africa.

(The full transcript can be read here)

France Defence Minister At NATO HQ

French Defence Minister Herve Morin joined his colleagues for the Defence Planning Committee yesterday, for the first time since France reintegrated into NATO's military.

In addition, President Sarkozy has proposed Gen. Stephane Abrial to head the NATO transformation command in Norfolk, Va., and Gen. Phillippe Stoltz to lead an operational command of rapid reaction forces in Lisbon. The appointment of french officers to these posts was part of the bargain when France agreed to rejoin the integrated military structure of the Alliance.

France remains outside the Nuclear Planning Group.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

De Hoop Scheffer Opens Ministerial Meeting

In his last Ministerial meeting at NATO, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer opened the Defence Planning Committee this afternoon, discussing the topics to be covered by Ministers, and those that had previously been covered in informal sessions.

This morning we discussed operational issues with a special focus on our engagement in Kosovo and NATO’s role in counter piracy. Thanks in no small part to the presence and engagement over the past 10 years of KFOR, as well as work done by the UN and most recently the work done by EULEX, the security situation in Kosovo is steadily improving. Allies discussed and decided how to adapt KFOR to this environment.

The threat posed by piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Horn of Africa is clearly increasing, with at least 80 pirate attacks counted this year to date. Through Operations Allied Provider and Allied Protector, NATO has made and continues to make an important contribution to the security of maritime traffic passing through this affected zone. Ministers took stock of our successful efforts to date and discussed the scope of NATO’s possible longer-term involvement in counter-piracy.

Tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s session of the North Atlantic Council will provide an opportunity to review NATO’s defence transformation efforts following up on the decisions taken by our Heads of State and Government at the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit. In that context we will address the NATO Response Force, how to make our forces more usable, the value of multinational approaches to building capabilities and efforts to increase interoperability.

We will also continue the important discussion on Headquarter Reform.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

NATO-Russia Council to Meet on June 27

NATO Foreign Ministers and their Russian counterpart will hold a ministerial session of the NATO-Russia Council on Corfu on June 27, following a meeting of the OSCE. There had been plans to hold a meeting in Brussels on May 20, but it was postponed by Russia in protest at a military exercise conducted by the alliance in Georgia, and after NATO expelled two Russian diplomats. An Ambassadorial meeting of the NRC will be held in Brussels to complete preparations, the date of which is still to be confirmed.

Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin recently told Trend News that There is probability that document on new quality of work of Russia-NATO council will be prepared by ministers' meeting” and that the “topic of the meeting will be summarizing of results and discussion of actions happened after August events in Georgia”. “Ministers are free to exchange opinions concerning various issues and cover questions that were not included in agenda before, i.e. there is specific character Russia-NATO”.

NATO Ministers Meet in Maastricht, Brussels

NATO Defence Ministers will meet in Maastricht today and tomorrow morning to discuss the Allied mission in Afghanistan. They will reconvene for meetings of the Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group tomorrow and Friday in Brussels at NATO HQ.

According to a Pentagon briefing after the Afghanistan meeting, which will include non-NATO troop contributors such as Australia and others, the focus of the ministers in Brussels will be on relations with Russia, missile defense, Kosovo and Georgia. Ministers will receive a briefing on the US Nuclear Posture Review.