Statement by NATO Deputy Spokesperson Carmen Romero on NATO military exercises
NATO military exercises are intended to enhance security and stability in Europe. All NATO military activities are proportionate, defensive, and fully in line with our international commitments.
Today's report by the European Leadership Network misleadingly puts NATO and Russian exercises on par. In fact, the Russian Ministry of Defence has announced over 4000 exercises for this year, which is over 10 times more than what NATO and Allies have planned in the same timeframe.
Moreover, Russia has incorporated nuclear and nuclear capable forces in its recent exercises.
NATO has made repeatedly clear that we not seek confrontation with Russia. For over two decades, we have tried to build a cooperative relationship with Russia. But Russia has changed borders by force, continues to support separatists in Ukraine and threatens to base nuclear missiles close to Alliance borders.
The scale and scope of Russia’s exercises are increasing tensions, rather than helping to de-escalate them. Russia is deliberately avoiding military transparency and predictability. It has deliberately circumvented the requirements for notification and observation of exercises under the OSCE Vienna Document and has made routine use of the “exception” for large-scale, no-notice “snap” exercises. These exercises are part of a more aggressive Russian military doctrine, dangerous political rhetoric, increased military deployments and the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.
In response, NATO has increased its presence in the eastern part of our Alliance, in order to enhance collective defence. This is our core task as a defensive Alliance.
NATO has already taken new initiatives to keep political and military channels of communication with Russia open. NATO military exercises are open to observers, including from Russia. In fact, all NATO exercises are announced months in advance and published on the NATO website. Russia has consistently refused all NATO offers for greater military transparency, dating back to well before the current crisis.
NATO fully supports arms control agreements which build trust and confidence. It is Russia which is obstructing key agreements like the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty, and the Vienna Document.
Russia’s unpredictable and surprise military maneuvers contribute to instability. We support calls for more transparency and predictability on military activities. NATO’s biggest exercise in more than a decade, Trident Juncture 2015, will take place in autumn in Spain, Italy and Portugal. It was announced one year in advance and all OSCE Participating States will be invited to send observers.