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Top official: NATO changes focus from missions to defence

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Brussels, April 29 (CTK) – NATO has been strongly focusing on the defence of the territory of its member states in the recent years once again, which was its original purpose, mainly due to the worsened relations with Russia, NATO Military Committee Chairman, General Petr Pavel, told CTK.

This means that the emphasis on the equipment and readiness of the military units has been changing, Pavel said.

NATO member states, especially the European countries, primarily focused on foreign missions until 2014, but the Russian annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine as well as a number of other recent events forced NATO to make radical changes within which it started reinforcing its military presence in its eastern flank.

After the 2014 developments in Ukraine, NATO ended any military cooperation with Russia and it is now communicating with Moscow only politically, at the rather infrequent meetings of the NATO-Russia Council or rare meetings of NATO and Russian officials.

Pavel said Russia is trying to persuade the world community that its model is more viable and more effective than liberal democracy of the Western type.

To achieve this, Moscow uses various methods from cyber attacks and massive disinformation campaigns to attempts to influence the political developments in NATO member countries, through which it can have a strong impact on the security situation practically without using conventional military instruments, Pavel said.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to show that the Russian model should be followed.

Pavel said Russia does not make difference between peace, crisis and war and the Russian military doctrine actually speaks of a permanent conflict in which only the intensity and instruments applied are changing.

At its summit in Warsaw, NATO declared cyber space to be its new operation environment and it is gradually adopting measures to face the cyber and hybrid threats.

Most recently, the West reacted to the use of a nerve agent in an attempt to kill a former Russian agent in Britain, for which Moscow seems to be responsible.

Pavel praised the Western reaction for being fast, clear and coordinated. He said the expulsion of Russian diplomats was an adequate response that did not escalate the tense situation too much.

Pavel said NATO is ready to defend its territory by military force, even though Russia seems to prefer other methods of conflict than a classical armed clash.

He said NATO is not preparing for an imminent war of a great extent, but it must be ready for such a possibility because of the Russian activities.

The change of focus from foreign missions to defence of territory is reflected in the need to well equip and prepare traditional military units, especially the ground forces, Pavel said.

He said NATO expects the Czech military to meet its promise to provide NATO with one mechanised brigade and be ready to send another one.

In June, British Air Chief Marshall Stuart Peach will replace Pavel in the post of chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

Pavel expects to return to the Czech Republic and have some rest before deciding what to do next, after three years as Czech chief-of-staff and three years as NATO Military Committee head.

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