NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said this week’s Madrid summit will agree on the alliance’s most significant transformation for a generation, putting 300,000 troops at high readiness in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said the military alliance’s forces in the Baltic states and five other frontline countries would be increased “up to brigade levels”, doubled or trebled to between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.
That would amount to “the biggest overhaul of our collective defence and deterrence since the cold war”, he said before the meeting of the 30-country alliance, which runs from Tuesday to Thursday this week.
The rapid-reaction Nato Response Force currently numbers up to 40,000, and the proposed change amounts to a broad revision in response to Russian militarisation.
Under the plans, Nato will also move stocks of munitions and other supplies farther east, a transition due to be completed in 2023.
The Secretary-General conceded he could not make any promises about the progress of applications by Sweden and Finland to join Nato, because objections raised by Turkey to their membership remained unresolved.
Stoltenberg said Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had agreed to meet Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, and Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday in Madrid to try to resolve the issue.
But he played down hopes of a breakthrough at the meeting on the margins of the nato event.
“It’s too early to say what kind of progress you can make by the summit,” he told a press conference.