BERLIN May 18 NATO would struggle to defend the
Baltic states from any Russian aggression "with conventional
means", Germany's Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday, citing
sources close to the organisation and a draft of a NATO planning
Eastern European states are nervous about Russia after it
annexed Ukraine's Crimea region and massed 40,000 troops on
The United States has sent 600 soldiers to the three Baltic
countries - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - and Poland to take
part in exercises to bolster NATO's presence in eastern Europe.
"Russia's ability and intention to undertake significant
military action without much forewarning poses a far-reaching
threat for the maintenance of security and stability in the
European-Atlantic area," the weekly magazine said, citing a NATO
defence planning committee document.
Russia is capable of building up a local or regional
military threat at short notice and at an arbitrary spot, the
draft document continued.
However, Europe at the end of the Cold War had concluded
that "it could reduce its capabilities for fighting
conventional, large scale and high intensity conflicts in
"While we never comment on alleged leaks or on our defence
plans, NATO's core task is collective defence and we will do
what it takes to defend any ally under attack," said NATO
spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.
"In light of the new security situation created by Russia's
illegal and illegitimate aggression against Ukraine, we have
taken immediate measures to enhance collective security in the
air, at sea and on the ground."
The Ukraine crisis has compelled the alliance to refocus on
its core mission of defending its members after years in which
its main effort has been far away in Afghanistan.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson, additional reporting by Adrian
Croft in Brussels; Editing by Sophie Hares)