NATO will meet in Warsaw to show unity against Russia and approve a Baltic force, but the Brexit referendum could take center stage as some believe a weaker European Union means a weaker NATO.

Poland always wanted a NATO summit, especially since Russia has flexed its muscles. But unfortunately, the Brexit referendum may take a starring role with the leaders along with a possibility of Donald Trump joining them next year:

“Since 1999, when Poland joined NATO, this is the most important summit for us,” said Tomasz Szatkowski, Poland’s deputy minister of defense. “It provides for the actual presence of Western allies in Poland.”

Poland will host “every major leader in the trans-Atlantic alliance, including President Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany — will be the largest NATO summit meeting in history, with 28 delegations from European Union countries, 26 from other nations, and representatives from the United Nations and the World Bank.”

Michael Baranowski, director of the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund, said “[P]olitically, it’s a Brexit summit.” When it comes to the military, “this summit will be about strengthening forces along the eastern front.”

Britain has already taken charge of one battalion in Estonia and Germany with another in Lithuania. The United States has the ones in Poland, which will contain mostly American troops. Canada will probably take charge of a battalion in Latvia. This places at least 4,000 NATO troops in the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)

Russia has flexed its muscles after the Kremlin invaded east Ukraine, annexed Crimea, and threatened ex-Soviet republics in 2014. Those republics, mainly the Baltics, have asked for more security. Russia responded with more troops along their border. Basically the invasion of Ukraine woke up the Cold War:

“He [Russian President Vladimir Putin] could start a charm offensive to try and take the steam out of alliance unity,” said a senior U.S. military officer. “Or it could go the other way.”

The Kremlin has more manpower, but not necessarily sophisticated weaponry. If they attempted to move in on a NATO country they will face “multinational NATO troops.” NATO troops have intercepted many Russian planes in the Baltic Sea, but some believe “those maneuvers are meant as a distraction and Russia is primarily focused on the Black Sea.” From The Wall Street Journal:

Earlier this month, Russia sent the third of a planned six next-generation diesel-powered submarines to beef up its Black Sea Fleet. Moscow has touted its submarine buildup, part of a military modernization plan announced by Mr. Putin in late 2010. Although the dollar figure of the cost of the plan—21 trillion rubles—has fallen, at the time it represented nearly $700 billion investment.

The submarine project, known as 636.3, has boosted the stature of the Black Sea Fleet, and one of the first two submarines in the Black Sea Fleet carried out cruise-missile strikes on targets in Syria last year.

The Black Sea Fleet is also due to receive three new search-and-rescue ships by 2018, Interfax reported in June.

Baranowski also said everything the representatives will adopt decisions already made “in earlier meetings of foreign and defense ministers,” which means the representatives can speak more about how Brexit will affect the organization.

NATO will also discuss the possibility of Donald Trump representing the United States at the next summit since the presumptive GOP candidate “has expressed doubts about the continued need for NATO and questioned whether the United States was being properly compensated for the military forces it has stationed across the globe:”

“I can’t imagine anyone will say it publicly, but I cannot imagine it will not be part of the private discussions,” Mr. Baranowski said. “A world with both Brexit and Trump? Holy moley, hold onto your pants.”


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