Tag Archives: NATO

Austria Closing Mosques

Austria’s government has announced plans to shut down at least 7 mosques and expel over 50 imams in what is being called the first use of the 2015 . The laws require imams to speak German and also bans Muslim organizations from receiving foreign funding. The seven mosques were investigated by the Austria religious affairs authority, after images surfaced in April of children re-enacting the WWI battle of Gallipoli at a Turkish mosque. Of the over 50 imams that are under investigation, two have received deportation orders and the rest are under investigation and could face deportation orders soon.

Austria is home to over 500,000 Muslims of most of whom are of Turkish origin.

At least 40 imams are members of the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Association in Europe (ATIB), a group suspected of close ties to the Turkish government and the Turkish nationalist group, the Grey Wolves. The Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organization is a branch of Turkey’s religious affairs agency known as the Diyanet.

The Grey Wolves are an unofficial paramilitary wing of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party. The Grey Wolves support the establishment of a single Turkish nation that stretches from the Balkans to Central Asia. The Grey Wolves backed Turkish President Erdogan in restarting hostilities with Kurdish parties in Turkey after the ceasefire broke down in 2015.  The Grey Wolves are known to engage in violence, and members have killed left-wing activists, as well as Kurdish activists, since the group’s formation in the late 1960s. Grey Wolves members have also been spotted fighting in Syria.

The Turkish government was quick to call the charges violations of minority rights and social integration politics.

The remaining six mosques are suspected of links to the Arab Religious Community, which has been ordered closed by the Austrian government following accusations that the group promotes pro-jihadist doctrines, and has ties to Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that shutting down the Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving the Arab Religious Community mosques are just the beginning of enforcing the ‘Law on Islam’.  Kurz goes further stating that “Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalization have no place in our country.”

Austrian-Turkey relations have been degrading in recent years.

The current prime minister of Austria Sebastian Kurz’s campaign responded to public concerns about Muslim immigration and the integration of immigrants.  Kurz has sought for the European Union to limit ties to Turkey, which in turn led Turkey to veto NATO cooperation with Austria. Turkey is a full-fledged NATO member while Austria is not a member, due to Soviet demands in the 1955 Austria State treaty which ended occupation of the country following World War II.

Turkey is looking to expand the influx of immigrants into Europe, while at the same time seeking EU funds for housing . In July,  Kurz will become president of the EU and said he will work on securing the external borders of the EU countries.

The coming weeks will tell how much effect the Austrian law has on the relations of Turkey and Austria, but are likely to degrade already weakened relations.

Defense Secretary Mattis misses Terrorist Attack after arriving at Kabul Airport

On September 27th U.S. Defense Secretary General James Mattis made a trip to Kabul, Afghanistan to pledge support for the Afghan government and discuss security options with President Ashraf Ghani. A rocket attack  targeted the airport two hours after which Mattis touched down in.  All flights were halted as result of the attack.

A barrage of up to 40 munitions hit the airport including 29 rocket-propelled grenades. The three terrorists involved with the attack were allegedly killed by Afghan special forces.

The trip was not publicized, and it’s unclear how the attackers knew Secretary Mattis was scheduled to arrive, although Taliban commanders told NBC News they were tipped off of Mattis’ presence by sources within the Afghan security forces. This was Secretary Mattis’ first trip to Afghanistan since President Trump announced a troop increase to Afghanistan on August 21st. Mattis is also excepted to meet with U.S. troops during his visit, as well as hold a press conference with President Ghani and, NATO chief Stoltenberg.

Zabihullah Majahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed the Taliban for responsibility of the attack and said their primary aim was U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis and other U.S. officials, a competing claim was issued by the Islamic State.

The Islamic State and the Taliban have previously competed over claims of responsibility for attacks. Most notably a  June of 2016  suicide car bomb that hit a minibus carrying Canadian embassy guards and killed 14 Nepalese nationals, as well as wounding several others.

If the Islamic State truly conducted this attack it would mark the first major IS attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The Taliban and Islamic State have overlapping controlled territories and support zones. The Taliban is estimated to control about 45%  of the country.

In President Trump made a speech on August 21st  looking to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. There are an estimated 11,000 U.S. troops, which President Trump looks to increase by about 3,000.  He also reported that the U.S. would no longer harbor the support of terrorism form neighboring Pakistan.

President Trump also expects NATO allies to increase their number of troops.  Currently the United States has around 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, of which 7,000 make up the bulk of the roughly 13,500 NATO Resolute Support training missions. The remaining U.S. troops primarily conduct U.S. counterterrorism operations.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is committed to funding the afghan security forces until 2020, and will continue to provide them $1 billion each year.

The United States has already increased the amount of air strikes in Afghanistan, dropping more ordinance from June to September of 2017 than at any time since the 2012 surge.

General Mattis had flown in from India, a key ally in the Trump Administration’s proposed Afghan strategy. It remains to be seen whether the additional 3,000 or so U.S. troops proposed in the plan will be sufficient to turn around Afghanistan’s fortunes.

Turkish NATO Delegation Walks Out of Event Over Dissident Speech

PHILADELPHIA — Turkish representatives to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s Parliamentary Assembly walked out of a Middle East Forum (MEF) event Tuesday when it became clear a dissident would speak there.

According to Daniel Pipes, MEF president, speakers invited to the event held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, included both Cem Utkan of the Turkish Embassy and Emre Çelik, president of the Rumi Forum.

Çelik is a supporter of Turkish Sunni cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Turkey publicly blames for the failed coup d’etat against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that occurred in July 2016.

“When we invited Çelik, Turkey decided no, he’s not welcome,” said Pipes at the conclusion of his remarks in the plenary session of the event. The Turks made clear through its NATO intermediaries that unless Çelik were removed from the program, the event would be cancelled.

“We felt we had no choice but to accede and remove his name from the program. As Americans, that troubled our conscience,” he added.

Accordingly, Pipes said, “Mr. Çelik has agreed to speak and he will address us here…In the spirit of freedom of speech, I’m bringing him in to speak anyway.”

Two members of the Turkish delegation stood up and began to argue vociferously with event organizers and the head of the NATO delegation, Thomas Michael Jopling, a Conservative Member of the U.K. House of Lords.  At the same time, two staff members from the Turkish Parliament stood and joined the other Turks, preparing to leave.

Jopling prevailed upon Pipes to allow him to speak before Çelik, as well as upon the Turks to remain for his remarks. “I don’t mind at all,” a Turkish representative is heard to say in a video taken of the event.

At the outset of Jopling’s remarks, he excoriated MEF for the change in plans.  “All I will say on the bombshell that you have tipped into our proceedings,” he began, was that “a verbal agreement was made that the gentlemen here would not speak,” referring to Çelik.  “That is unacceptable.”

As Jopling’s remarks drew to an end, Pipes joined him at the podium, contending that the agreement was made under duress.

Jopling then departed along with the Turkish delegation.

During Çelik’s remarks, which followed the walkout, he contended, “The autocratic tendencies of President Erdoğan [do] not encourage democracy in a fragile region.  Example: President Erdoğan’s overreaching the rule of law.”

Çelik argued that Erdoğan’s overreaches “include the purge of some 120,000 employees that has left key vacancies in police, intelligence, and military” in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt.

After the event, MEF tweeted, “Ultimately, @NATO must decide if it will live up to its mission or if it will let one member state dictate its discussions worldwide.”

The event also featured conversations on regional realities in the Middle East, dealing with Syria, and both violent and non-violent jihadi activity in the West.

How can NATO allies meet their commitments?

On March 7th German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced that the country will be buying MQ-4C Triton drones from the U.S. firm Northrop Grumman to be delivered by 2025. Tritons are meant to replace the cancelled Euro-Hawk drone program, which was cancelled in 2013 because it could cost as much as 600 million euros to get the system approved for use in civilian airspace.

The planned upgrades follow a promise by Berlin and other NATO members to spend 2% of their GDP on NATO by 2024. Right now only 5 NATO members (U.S., U.K., Poland, Greece, and Estonia) out of 28 meet the required 2% GDP spending target.

The problem with such guarantees is that at the 2006 Riga Summit NATO members also made a promise to meet their commitments, but later backed out.

With the ongoing Russian hostility in Eastern Europe it would be unwise for NATO members to renege on their promises this time. In 2014 Moscow annexed Crimea and fomented civil war in Ukraine, a country that is at NATO’s doorstep. At the same time Russia has been threatening Eastern Europe, even going as far as launching a cyberattack against Estonia in 2007.

That year hackers connected to Moscow launched a week-long denial-of-service attack on Estonian’s banks, media, and government institutions. As a result ATMs shutdown and access to important government and commercial websites was blocked. The attack put European allies on edge in part because such activities were later incorporated into Russian tactics prior to the invasion of Georgia in 2008.

In response to the Ukraine crisis and the possible Russian meddling in the Baltics NATO is planning to station battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland starting in 2017. Such moves might reassure NATO’s Eastern allies as their national armies will be reinforced with NATO forces.

NATO calls these battalions Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and these forces may become more effective if their members hold up their promise and increase the defense spending to equal or surpass the 2% GDP threshold.

For example, Germany currently spends 1.2% of its GDP on defense and this year it is planning to raise that number to 1.22% or 37 billion euros. An increase to the required 2% would put the German military budget at 60 billion euros and if all European NATO members spent their 2% NATO might have additional $90 billion in annual expenditures.

The extra cash generated by alliance members meeting their 2% commitments could help NATO avoid the problems it had with its 2011 Libya mission. In 2011 during NATO’s fight against the Gadhafi regime U.S. allowed Europeans to run most of the operations. European partners suffered from a lack of aircraft and munitions, ran short of cruise missiles, and exposed substantial disagreements between members.

Increasing defense spending will be necessary for NATO members to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future, particularly if NATO is to fulfill its original purpose as an alliance aimed at containing a Russian force that has seen successes in utilizing an asymmetric warfare, which has proven more effective in Syria and Ukraine than was previously expected.

A way to make sure NATO members do not renege on their commitments could be to have America follow up on its threat to decrease its involvement in the alliance if agreements are not met. Up to 75% of the alliance’s assets belong to America, which includes equipment such as ships, tanks, and batteries. Any reduction in U.S. support could have serious effects on NATO’s ability to resupply and defend itself. The U.S. should make clear that it’s preferred policy is for a strong and capable NATO, but that overreliance on U.S. assets benefits neither U.S security nor the alliance as a whole.

 

‘The Bear is Back’: Center’s New Book Warns of ‘Putin’s Reset’ — and What America Must Do in Response

BOOK RELEASE: Putin’s Reset: The Bear is Back and How America Must Respond

November 3, 2016

NOTE: This title currently available on Kindle only. Paperback release next week. Free PDF version below.

(Washington, DC) At no time since the fall of the Soviet Union has the threat from Russia been as serious – and Washington’s relations with Moscow been as poor – as in the fall of 2016. As charges fly that Russia is trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by leaking Democratic e-mails and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump accuse each other of having inappropriate ties to the Russian government, the questions about where Vladimir Putin is taking his country and what that will mean for ours have largely gone unasked, let alone answered.

acrobat-proscreensnapz004

Putin’s Reset: The Bear is Back and How America Must Respond explores the threats posed by Putin’s Russia, many of which have received little attention in the U.S. press. These include significant improvements in Russia’s nuclear ballistic missile arsenals, drastically improved air and missile defenses, and hardened shelters against nuclear attacks, apparently in preparation to survive a nuclear war. Russia also has stepped up economic, cyber, information and intelligence warfare against the United States to undermine American security and create a new global order.

The Obama administration has ignored these developments and emboldened Putin by answering his interventions in Ukraine and Syria with appeasement and ultimatums that it repeatedly failed to back up.

Center Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs Fred Fleitz outlines new challenges in US/Russia relations

It is hard to overstate the cumulative impact and portentousness of these developments. In his contribution to this collection of essays, noted Russia expert Dr. Stephen Blank depicts the situation with this grim warning: “Putin’s Russia is preparing for war against the U.S. and NATO. Putin would prefer to win without fighting, but he is prepared to use force and apparently escalate to nuclear weapons use if it is necessary and in Russia’s interests. He must be deterred. We are not doing nearly enough to do so.”

This series of essays by nine leading U.S. national security experts —Dr. Stephen Blank,

Fred Fleitz, Kevin D. Freeman, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Dr. Daniel Gouré, Cliff Kincaid, Roger W. Robinson, Jr, David Satter, Dr. Mark B. Schneider, and Dr. J. Michael Waller – documents from their various perspectives and fields of expertise how the threat from Russia is growing as it gears up, at best, for a do-over of the Cold War. And at worst, how Russia is creating what the Soviets used to call “a correlation of forces” that will enable the Kremlin to engage decisively in actual hostilities against the United States.

Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney noted:

“Our hope is that the American people, once equipped with the insights in Putin’s Reset will have a more complete understanding of how the Kremlin of yesteryear – with its global ambitions, bullying behavior and rabid hostility towards the United States immortalized by Candidate Ronald Reagan in a 1980 presidential campaign ad as “a bear in the woods” – is back. And, with that urgently needed understanding, the public will be better equipped to decide on what course is the most appropriate U.S. response: continued accommodation and appeasement or a return to the policy approach that Mr. Reagan as president employed to help bring down the Soviet Union: peace through strength.”

This important book is available for purchase in Kindle at Amazon.com (paperback format coming soon). It also can be downloaded for free in PDF format below:

putins_reset

 

– 30 –

Green-on-Blue Attack Serves as a Reminder of Struggle in Afghan Mission

On Wednesday October 19th, an Afghani soldier killed two Americans and left three wounded, after opening fire on Americans at an Afghan Army training facility in Kabul, Afghanistan. The unidentified attacker was killed when troops returned fire.

The attack was reportedly a “green-on-blue” attack, meaning an Afghan soldier or an Afghan police officer makes an attack against international service members. The Taliban have been known to infiltrate the Afghani security forces and make such attacks.

Right after President Obama proclaimed that the U.S intends to pull out and end combat operations did these attacks become popular in 2012; when they rose to account for 15% of coalition deaths. While observers typically attribute such attacks to Taliban infiltration, only about 25% of green-on-blue attacks involved Taliban in 2012.

Since 2008, there have been 92 “green-on-blue” attacks, leaving 150 international troops dead and 187 wounded.

The attack marks the 8th American death in Afghanistan in 2016.

Earlier this year in August more than 100 U.S troops were sent to a Helmand province, Lashkar Gah. Within the month of August one American was killed by the Taliban. The attack left another American and six Afghan soldiers wounded.

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has operated in support of the Afghani government and made it’s primary strategy an effort to strengthen Afghan security forces, some of which have later turned their guns on Americans.

Since 2001 to 2014 the U.S has been in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. It is estimated that 2,357 US troops were killed during that time. Since 2014 it is estimated 83 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan.

President Obama officially ended the war in Afghanistan in 2014, but troops remain on the ground, some times under very restrictive rules of engagement.. In response to recent Taliban gains U.S. troops were finally permitted to directly target Taliban forces.

President Obama stated at a news conference on October 15th that there are currently 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. They will remain there until January 20th 2017, leaving his successor to determine the next move the U.S will take.

The U.S is not the only country to be campaigning against terrorism.

In August 2003 NATO authorized the United Nations to carry out on a new mission, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan until December 2014. The mission was to enable Afghan authorities and the Afghani government to provide adequate security across their borders. ISAF is NATO’s longest mission to date, with 130,000 troops from 51 nations. 90,000 of those 130,000 troops are American.

Once ISAF’s due date approached in 2014, NATO mandated another mission, the Resolute Support Mission, where 7,006 American troops are active. Launched in 2015 to train, advise and assist Afghan forces. NATO nations have committed to financially supporting the Afghan government until 2017, but may push that date back to 2020.

Despite all these efforts the Taliban control approximately 10 percent of the country, more than at any point since the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate was ousted from power post-9/11.  Another 20 percent of the country remains essentially contested between Taliban and Afghan government forces.

Taliban Suicide Bombings Illustrate Terror Influence as Ramadan Comes to an End

The Taliban conducted sequential suicide bombings on an Afghan military convoy and its first responders on Thursday, June 30th.  The attacks occurred in the western outskirts of Kabul, where buses were carrying newly graduated cadets back into the city after completing training.

In the company area of Kabul City near the neighboring Wardak province, a single suicide bomber targeted police busses filled with recently graduated Afghan police recruits. Twenty minutes after the attack, a second terrorist detonated a car bomb, specifically targeted the first responders on the scene.

In an online twitter statement, a Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed that his notorious terror group had coordinated the attack.

Following the attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul condemned the terror group’s operation as a “cruel and complete disregard for human life during the holy month of Ramadan….”

In total, the Taliban suicide bombers claimed the lives of over thirty people, both security personnel and civilians, while wounding another forty.

The Taliban have conducted several mass casualty operations in 2016, one of which occurred ten days prior to the June 30th bus bombing. Many of these large scale attacks on Afghan and other security forces and officials is part of the major Taliban operation, codenamed “Operation Omari.” The operation is named after former Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, who was killed back in July 2015. Following his death, the group announced that it would be using suicide bombers to target both Afghan and foreign forces and that the group is backed by “thousands of fully armed martyrdom seekers”

The rise in Taliban attacks during June is not surprising to some analysts who have seen similar actions in the past; however, the success with which the group is having with its operations is in fact concerning.

In addition to these Taliban attacks, Afghan authorities have began engaging in combat with Islamic State in the east of the country. The extension of the jihadist group’s battlefield into Afghanistan occurred in the last year, and the group was reported to have little to limited success in the country.

Statements from Afghan President Ghani in March outlined the defeat of the group and their quelled existence in the eastern region; however, some individuals dispute the President’s claims regarding the lack of progress of IS in Afghanistan. Notably, the Daily Caller outlined the increase in former Taliban militiamen taking up arms for Islamic State. Such actions have not been uncommon among Taliban leaders, who have faced numerous issues due to fragmented control over the Afghan-based group in the last year.

The solidification of security in Afghanistan has long been a U.S. project since its intervention in the country back in 2001. After ousting the Taliban regime, United States forces have been working endlessly to establish a democratic form of government that is able to secure its borders and the civilians in them. Yet, after fifteen years of troubleshooting, the United States has began to draw back its influence in the country and its attempts to aid in maintaining security.

Presently, one of the talking points set to be discussed during the NATO Summit this July is the involvement of the United States and other countries in Afghanistan. NATO plans to meet in Warsaw in the coming weeks to discuss the future of Afghan support, which has been previously coordinated through the Resolute Support Mission, a program designed to assist, train, and advise Afghan security forces. Ultimately, the program that was instituted in 2015, aims to remain in place until beyond 2016, with funding continued until 2020.

Additionally, the efforts of The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) to end sectarian and insurgent fighting in the country have lead to proposed peace deals with jihadist groups and former Taliban allies. China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States have aimed to open up cease-fire discussions with a number of terrorist and sectarian groups, including the Taliban. Such conciliatory efforts were made to Hezb-I-Islami in May of 2016, and no discussions have been had so far with the Taliban, after the group declined several invitations.

Between efforts to decrease US and foreign military involvement and proposals for peace-talks in which amnesty concessions are given, the United States’ hand in Afghanistan appears to be a rather mixed  and contradictory approach to increasing security and combating terrorism. These efforts, in addition to the recent threat and surge of Islamic State forces in the region, only appear to stagnate the process of government building, self-sufficient security, and the larger effort to rebuild the broken Afghan state. Come July 8th, NATO has a significant discussion on their hands with regard to the future of Afghanistan, as the Taliban’s consistency to maintain influence has proved unwavering.

Sweden Fears Russia May Have Sabotaged Transmitter

Swedish authorities confirmed reports on May 17, 2016,  that a 300-meter telecommunications transmitter had been deliberately sabotaged. The incident occurred this past Sunday,  just outside Boras in southwestern Sweden. The transmitter served 84,680 households with T.V. and radio signals, and also served police, military, and rescue services who use the transmitter for internal encrypted communications.

Jan Johansson, led investigator of the case, noted there were no questions about the incident in that it was a deliberate act of sabotage. Asa Ragnar, Communications Director for Teracom, the Swedish state-owned telecommunications company, said Teracom will be  tightening security to its remaining 53 transmitter stations. Media outlets report that the perpetrators were able to access the transmitter tower by utilizing an open security door. The perpetrators used a variety of tools to forcefully remove bolts that were  used to secure metal cables with pylons to concrete pillars.

The security of the transmitter has been previously been called into question prior to Sunday’s incident.  A report by SVT television, detailed how a group of kids were videotaping themselves climbing the tower a few days prior to the incident. Swedish radio also reported that there were no surveillance cameras on the premise. The facility is equipped with an alarm system, the transmitter is not protected.

A man told The Aftonbladet Newspaper that he was able to walk around the remains of the transmitter Monday afternoon. He bypassed all security just by taking an alternate route through the woods, and was never questioned, approached, or restricted from accessing the site.

A number of recent incidents have authorities and officials concerned about the country’s critical infrastructure. On May 4, 2016, Police claimed at least two suspects cut a cable to another transmitter tower in the same region as the Boras incident. Then on May 10, Sweden’s bomb squads responded to a mysterious package left by another transmitter, but was later deemed a harmless.

While no individual or entity has been linked to the incident, most Swedes feel that if was international sabotage,  Russia would be the prime suspect. For years, Sweden has viewed Russia as their biggest geopolitical threat, and claimed that Russia threatened them if they continued to pursue efforts in joining NATO.

In 2014, reports indicated that a Russian submarine was in the Baltic Sea, 30-miles off the coast of Stockholm, which triggered a massive hunt by the Swedish Navy to locate the Submarine. Other incidents of aggression included Russian-war planes buzzing over Sweden and unauthorized flying over the Baltic Sea.

However, the Ukraine cyber-attack last December, only increased tensions between Sweden and Russia, as the Ukraine is a close ally of Sweden.  The Dagens Nyheter Newspaper  reported that according to security services 2016 would be the year that Russian spies go after infrastructure. Then on March 20, 2016, several Swedish newspapers including Dagen Nyheter were knocked off line for several hours by hackers believed to be from Russia.

Authorities are left with three possible scenarios it was either a prank, a domestic terrorist, or an international terrorist group or rogue state. The breach shows the vulnerabilities in Sweden’s security sector as they have a man power shortage in the military, and police are checking passports Oresund bridge. This gives whom ever is responsible more opportunities to strike at Sweden’s largely defenseless critical infrastructure.

NATO’s “Brilliant Jump” exercise prepares Poland

Today, NATO has begun to ship hundreds of items of military equipment to the northwestern Polish port in Szczecin, located on the North Sea. The equipment embarked in Spain in what NATO is calling a “major test” regarding their reaction force. Along with the military items, 1500 NATO troops will be participating in the testing. NATO will also conduct the exercise with additional equipment and soldiers from fellow member-allies: Britain, Albania, and Poland.

“Brilliant Jump,” the name given to the exercise, specifically focuses on testing the alliance’s capacity to relocate military forces wherever it faces a threat and will continue until May 27th.

In regard to “Brilliant Jump,” Lt. General Manfred Hofmann, a former leader in the German Bundeswehr, and current commander of NATO’s coveted Multinational Corps Northeast, said that the exercise would prove that NATO is prepared to defend its allies in the region. This preparation, a likely result after Poland raised concerns over Russia’s aggressive behavior in the region.

NATO initiatives in the last two years have drastically increased following the Crimean annexation by Russia. NATO has specifically initiated a boost in Air Policing, a mission meant to “detect, track and identify all violations and infringements of its airspace and to take appropriate action.” The military alliance most notably claims this policy has led to the interception of Russian aircraft by allied F-16s.

Last week, NATO announced the finalization of their ten-year long plan to install European ground to air defense systems. Russia views the newly implemented missile defense system as an extension of NATO policing in the region, and has outlined the system as a threat to its own security. Russia claims that the defense system breaches a 1987 agreement signed with the US, which stipulates the signing parties eliminate all offensive intermediate and short-range missile systems after 18 months of the signing. These systems are defined in the treaty and include ground-launch based ballistic missiles, which the NATO system is intended to defend against.

Regardless of the accusations, Russia has been extremely provocative with NATO allies in the last year. The country has frequently committed violations of NATO airspace, and in some instances had to have their planes shot out of the sky, as occurred in Turkey in November.

The Telegraph mapped out the suspected number of Russian incursions into NATO airspace between September of 2014 and May 15th of last year. They listed fifteen incursions during the seven and a half month period, which explains Poland’s concerns regarding Russian interventionism.

Following “Brilliant Jump”, NATO troops will take part in the largest military exercise in Poland since 1989, named “Anaconda-16.” Around 30,000 troops will be involved, and the exercise is likely intended to quell Polish concerns and increase security along Europe’s Eastern border. Yet, Poland may still remain underwhelmed by security measures being taken.

In July, Poland may seek to further ensure their security at the NATO Summit in Warsaw. There, members will attempt to introduce new policy, launch major initiatives, or reinforce partnerships as threats around allied countries appear to grow. Perspective policies could even include a request of a permanent presence of US troops on Polish soil, if security threats continue to grow.