With the 2023 NATO Vilnius Summit set to take place on July 11 to 12, we organized a virtual briefing on deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank. The briefing was informed by the recent report, “Will the Eastern Flank be Battle Ready? Deterrence by 2030.”

Led by Chairman Lt Gen (retired) Ben Hodges, Alexander Lanoszka, Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Waterloo, and Marcin Zaborowski, Policy Director of GLOBSEC’s Future of Security Programme, the briefing provided an in-depth analysis of one of NATO’s most pressing hard security challenges and outlined a series of pragmatic recommendations to ensure readiness to deter Russia in the future. In total, 18 nationalities across three continents attended the online briefing, with notable audience members including NATO’s former Deputy Secretary General and multiple national parliamentarians.

Notable Briefing Takeaways:

  • The ongoing conflict in Ukraine continues to reflect failed deterrence efforts, as Russia persists in causing harm and pursuing its political goals in the region. Therefore, enhancing the Eastern Flank becomes imperative when assessing the anticipated long-term influence of Putin.
  • Currently, there are significant gaps in the defense capabilities of Eastern Flank countries, including outdated air defense systems, limited strategic mobility assets, and insufficient multilateral and bilateral integrated defenses.
  • Various policy recommendations can be made to address these issues, including fulfilling NATO pledges, increasing stockpiles of ammunition and equipment, improving procurement cooperation, enhancing missile defense through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, focusing on logistics, repudiating the NATO founding act, and not underestimating the threat from Russia in the Eastern Flank.
  • Eastern Flank countries should intensify their efforts to improve logistics, enabling swift movement of units through enhanced military mobility, including transportation and infrastructure. This is crucial for NATO forces to demonstrate their ability to move faster than Russian forces.
  • Additionally, moving away from a tiered forward presence and adopting an enhanced and tailored forward presence approach will help to create a more cohesive flank. Implementing a more rigorous training program, including large multinational exercises, will also help identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
  • NATO and its 31 Allies must closely examine the merit of maintaining the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 as it imposes artificial and self-imposed restraints, where the need for a significant permanent posture is needed and justified given the threat.