NATO has secret plan to defend Baltics: WikiLeaks

LONDON Tue Dec 7, 2010 6:31am EST

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski inspect the honour guard in Warsaw December 6, 2010. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski inspect the honour guard in Warsaw December 6, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

LONDON (Reuters) - NATO has drawn up secret plans to defend the Baltic states against any Russian threat, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

The decision to draft contingency plans for the former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was taken secretly earlier this year at the urging of the United States and Germany, ending years of division within the alliance over how to view Russia, the Guardian said.

In parallel talks with Warsaw, it said, Washington offered to beef up Polish security against Russia by deploying special naval forces to the Baltic ports of Gdansk and Gdynia, putting F-16 fighter aircraft in Poland and rotating C-130 Hercules transport planes into Poland from U.S. bases in Germany.

The details were from 250,000 diplomatic cables obtained by the website WikiLeaks that are being made public.

Russia said it was "bewildered" by the allegations, a source in its foreign ministry told Interfax news agency.

NATO leaders were understood to have quietly endorsed the new strategy to defend vulnerable parts of eastern Europe at a summit in Lisbon last month, the Guardian said.

"Such publications cause a lot of questions and bewilderment with us... Russia has repeatedly raised the question about the need to ensure there is no military planning aimed against one another," the Russian foreign ministry source said.

In Lisbon, NATO and Russia agreed to cooperate on missile defense and other security issues, and hailed a new start in relations that have been strained since Russia's war with Georgia in 2008. U.S. President Barack Obama has a policy of "resetting" relations with Moscow.

The WikiLeaks cables point to the underlying tension in the relationship between the former Cold War adversaries.

The plan entailed grouping the Baltic states with Poland in a new regional defense scheme, codenamed Eagle Guardian, said the paper.

Poland, the Baltic states and others were rattled by Russia's brief war against Georgia and have been irked by large-scale Russian army exercises in Belarus and by Moscow's new military doctrine that sees NATO expansion as a threat.

The Guardian said nine NATO divisions -- U.S., British, German and Polish -- had been identified for combat operations in the event of aggression against Poland or the Baltic states. Polish and German ports had been listed to receive naval assault forces and British and U.S. warships, the paper said.

The first NATO exercises under the plan were to take place in the Baltic next year, it quoted sources as saying.

Germany and other Western European countries had previously opposed drawing up plans to defend the Baltic states, anxious to avoid upsetting Russia.

Earlier this year, the United States started rotating U.S. army Patriot missiles into Poland.

But the secret cables exposed the Patriots' value as purely symbolic. The Patriot battery was for training purposes, and was neither operational nor armed with missiles, said the Guardian.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft, additional reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman in Moscow; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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Comments (3)
dtiertant wrote:
Why are we still fighting the Cold War? It’s been 20 years.

Dec 07, 2010 12:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
rentpayer wrote:
Seems reasonable to have contingency plans; it’s hard to believe that this is a surprise to the Russians.

The real scandal is that the U S government is so untrustworthy that it takes Wikileaks for U S citizens to learn what “their” government is up to.

Dec 07, 2010 1:28pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Tom_MacKnight wrote:
You can try and call it freedom of the press. However, when you publish a State’s secrets which cause de-stabilization of areas of the world; when you publish defense plans, that espionage and if you a citizen of the United States its treason. I say line up that soldier and summarily execute him by firing squad. Then go after each individual who is involved with Wiki Leaks and handle them like spies.

Dec 07, 2010 6:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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