Protection of NATO’s eastern flank
The Bundeswehr is closely involved in NATO’s activities on the eastern flank. The alliance is determined to protect its citizens, to defend NATO’s territory, and to safeguard freedom and democracy. The Bundeswehr stands ready to provide deterrence and defence, particularly in the Baltic region, thus demonstrating allied solidarity.
NATO strengthens its eastern flank
Germany has been a NATO member since 1955. The Bundeswehr has always been embedded in the Alliance. With the end of the Cold War, this seemed to have lost its significance. But ever since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, a new threat situation has emerged especially for the Eastern European Allies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has further aggravated the situation. However, NATO has responded to both of these aggressions by taking the appropriate decisions to
- increase defence spending
- build up a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force )
- reinforce Air Policing
- intensify its maritime presence
- deploy Battlegroups to the Eastern European NATO member states
- reinforce the troops stationed in eastern Europe
- increase the number of exercises and large-scale exercises
- adopt a new Strategic Concept
Additional decisions on strengthening the eastern flank are expected to be taken at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July 2023. At the summit, the heads of state and government will meet to discuss, for example, the reinforcement of the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force or the adaptation of NATO’s Force Structure to further reduce the response time in threat situations.
The NATO engagement in the Baltics
3+3: protecting the Baltic region
Especially in the Baltic region, the Bundeswehr assumes responsibility for protecting its Allies: Aircraft of the German Air Force provide airspace security for the Baltic states on a regular basis; the German Army provides the core of NATO’s Battlegroup in Lithuania. Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom have assumed command of one NATO Battlegroup each in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, respectively. On Germany’s initiative, these six NATO partners are now coordinating their engagement as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the newly established 3+3 format.
In addition, Germany has earmarked a brigade for the defence of Lithuania. This formation will enable NATO to respond quickly to any change in the security situation on the eastern flank. Elements of this brigade’s command post are deployed permanently in Rukla in Lithuania. The brigade’s forces are on standby in Germany, but regularly conduct exercises in Lithuania. A short while ago, Germany pledged a possible permanent deployment of a Bundeswehr brigade to Lithuania, thereby reaffirming its promise to provide assistance in line with Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which enshrines the principle of collective defence.
In addition to its engagement in the Baltic region, Germany makes other military contributions along NATO’s eastern flank to protect Allied territory:
- regular participation in the VJTFVery High Readiness Joint Task Force with land, air and naval forces
- participation with combat aircraft in enhanced Air Policing South in Romania
- provision of air defence forces in Poland
- provision of infantry troops to NATO’s multinational Battlegroup in Slovakia
- provision of seagoing units to NATO’s maritime forces in the North Atlantic and the North and Baltic Seas
We will deter and defend forward with robust in-place, multi-domain, combat-ready forces, enhanced command and control arrangements, prepositioned ammunition and equipment and improved capacity and infrastructure to rapidly reinforce any Ally, including at short or no notice.NATO Strategic Concept