NATO allies expect the Alliance to support them in the fight against the pandemic. However, according to Anadolu, NATO does not have a stock of ventilators and other medical equipment. Moreover, the number of infected people in the military and personnel is growing. How COVID-19 paralyzed the activities of a powerful military organization-in the article. After the discovery of COVID-19 in NATO personnel and military, some Alliance exercises were postponed or canceled due to the virus.
The new type of coronavirus epidemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and continues to have economic and social consequences around the world, has also affected the activities of NATO, the main military Alliance of the Western world.
According to information obtained by Anadolu, along with the fact that COVID-19 was detected at the headquarters and among NATO military personnel, the virus also hit the Alliance’s exercises.
As of March 30, the number of employees at the NATO headquarters in Brussels who were found to have the coronavirus reached five. It is reported that among the military personnel involved in the Alliance’s missions around the world, cases of infection were also recorded, although the exact number is not given.
At NATO headquarters, the number of employees and meetings has decreased, and business travel is practically prohibited. On the other hand, receptions of foreign visitors have been canceled at the headquarters, and the meeting of foreign Ministers of the Alliance member countries, which is held twice a year, has been moved to a virtual environment for the first time.
On April 2, the foreign Ministers will discuss security issues related to the Alliance “for the first time in a video conference” over a secure line.
NATO exercises suspended
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that with the virus beginning to spread, the organization’s priority is to ensure the health and safety of personnel and the military.
According to Stoltenberg, the operations and missions of the Alliance have not yet been seriously affected by COVID-19, and the complete termination of the activities of an organization like NATO is out of the question.
However, with the increasing speed of infection, some military exercises aimed at maintaining a high level of NATO readiness and enhancing the Alliance’s military capabilities were canceled, postponed, or restricted to a smaller number of participants.
First of all, the virus affected the Defender of Europe 2020 exercise»
One of the first exercises to be curtailed was Defender Europe 2020, during which the transfer of military and equipment from the United States to Europe was practiced. The US announced that the transfer will be suspended, and part of the exercises will be curtailed.
In addition, the exercise “Cold response 2020″ (Cold Response 2020), which began on March 9 in Norway, has stopped. The exercises near the Russian borders involved about 15,000 NATO troops from nine member countries, including the United States, and training skills in difficult conditions and cold climates.
Because of COVID-19, some other exercises that were planned to be held with the participation of NATO allies were also canceled, such as” Dynamic Front “(Dynamic Front),” saber Strike “(Saber Strike),” Rapid response ” (Swift Response).
Russia has not canceled the exercise yet
It is assumed that the cancellation or suspension of exercises aimed at increasing the level of readiness of NATO to confront its main geopolitical opponent in the face of Russia, may negatively affect the security of the Alliance and its deterrence potential.
At the same time, in Russia, where at the moment the number of deaths from coronavirus is calculated in double digits and a relatively low level of morbidity is recorded, no exercises have yet been reported canceled.
To what extent does NATO support its allies?
Against the background of the virus, NATO, whose main task is to ensure the security of its members, is at the same time being considered in the context of requests for assistance from allies.Requests for assistance from COVIL-19 member countries, such as Spain, made international media headlines for the Alliance.
“NATO allies are acting in solidarity and together in the fight against the coronavirus,” a NATO official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Anadolu.
The NATO representative also said that the security forces continue to support civilian initiatives in the field of logistics and planning, and the Alliance supports the transport of medical equipment.
As a military Alliance, NATO does not have a stock of artificial lung ventilation devices and other medical equipment, the Agency’s interlocutor noted. COVID-19 is an international health crisis, and the main responsibility lies with the national authorities, he stressed.
The need to use the fifth article is voiced
On the other hand, NATO has two separate programs in the field of strategic air transport. In this regard, it is known that NATO supports the transport of various medical services from China to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, from South Korea to Romania, from the Czech Republic to Spain and Italy.
However, it is believed that member States, as can be seen from the EU example, expect more support from NATO in the face of the challenges that have arisen in the context of fighting the pandemic.
In fact, some parties even raise the issue of invoking the fifth article of the NATO Charter, which promises collective defense to all allies.
And NATO continues to say that this is a defensive Alliance, the health sector is in the area of national responsibility and if requested, the Alliance can provide the necessary assistance.