NATO ill-prepared for a Russian attack: Report

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis arrive to review NATO multinational brigade in Craiova, Romania, in this October 9, 2017 photo. (Reuters)
Updated 21 October 2017
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NATO ill-prepared for a Russian attack: Report

BERLIN: NATO would be incapable of rebuffing an attack by Russia on its eastern flank, according to an internal report by the alliance cited Friday by German magazine Der Spiegel.
The document, entitled “Progress Report on the Strengthened Deterrence and Defense Capability of the Alliance,” identified significant deficiencies.
“NATO’s ability to logistically support rapid reinforcement in the strongly expanded territory of the European commander’s area of responsibility has atrophied since the end of the Cold War,” Spiegel quoted the report as saying.
Even the expansion of the NATO Response Force (NRF) had failed to ensure that it could “react rapidly and — if necessary — sustainably,” it said.
The report cited a pared-down command structure since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as one of the crucial factors that had undermined the alliance’s defense capabilities, Spiegel said.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu declined to comment on the Spiegel report but said that alliance “forces are more ready and able to deploy than at any time in decades.”
She added that work was “underway to ensure that the NATO command structure remains robust, agile and fit for purpose,” an issue to be discussed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers next month.
NATO’s relations with Russia have hit their lowest point since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine.
After Russia annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014, the alliance suspended its civilian and military cooperation with Moscow, and Ukraine announced its intention to apply for NATO membership.
The alliance also fast-tracked preparations for the defense of eastern European members and tripled the size of its Response Force, with a new 5,000-member rapid reaction force at its core.
The US-led alliance has bolstered its forces in eastern Europe with four international battalions acting as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism in the region.
But NATO has also tried to maintain dialogue with Moscow, and ambassadors from its 29 member states will meet their Russian counterpart next Thursday in Brussels.


Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

Updated 20 February 2019
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Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

  • The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians
  • EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news"

BUDAPEST: Hungary launched a new anti-immigration media campaign on Tuesday in which it accused George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, but which Brussels immediately dismissed as "fake news".
According to the Hungarian government's Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers' money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: "You too have a right to know what Brussels is preparing".
"They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states' rights to border defence; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa," it continues.
The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians, including from Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party grouping which includes both Juncker and right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.
In a series of tweets, Daul condemned the campaign, calling its claims "deceitful, misleading and... not based on facts".
Daul denounced Hungary's attacks on Juncker and defended him as a "true Christian Democrat and a real European leader".
He went on to remind Hungary that "decisions in Brussels, including on migration, are taken collectively by EU governments" and the European Parliament, both of which include Hungarian representatives.
The presence of Fidesz within the EPP has long been a source of controversy but there have been no official moves by any of the other centre-right parties in the grouping to expel it.
Orban's government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including "Let's Stop Brussels" and "Don't let Soros have the last laugh."
In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old philanthropist and investor as a "public enemy" for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.
At the same time, Orban's government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.
In recent months, pro-Orban media have also attacked Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini — the author of a critical report about Hungary that formed the basis of EU legal action against Budapest -- and Juncker's deputy Frans Timmermans.
"Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration," Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman, told reporters in Budapest on Tuesday.
"Hungarians need to know about this, that's why the latest information campaign has been launched," he said, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.
Kovacs said plans in "drawers in Brussels" included hikes in financial funding of NGOs and the creation of a special migration fund.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news".
"The Hungary government campaign beggars belief," he told a briefing in Brussels.
"It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has. There is no conspiracy. Hungarians deserve facts, not fiction," he said.