Space war threat: NATO bolsters defence power as Russia and China spark new battleground

In a bid to shake of its Cold War cobwebs, the 29-member security bloc will launch the new capabilities to create a shield against high-performance Russian and Chinese missiles that can strike Europe within minutes of launch. The trans-Atlantic alliance will not immediately send weapons to space but want to ensure systems, including lasers, are ready to shut down enemy missiles and air defences, and destroy satellites. Initial work on Nato’s new space force will concentrate on protecting satellites crucial for modern communications.

The new policy will make the alliance battle-ready on land, air, sea, computer networks and space.

It will also come as a major victory for Donald Trump, who has previously branded Nato “obsolete”.

The US President hopes to set up a sixth branch of his country’s armed forces – dubbed the “space force”.

General John W Raymond, head of US Space Command, has urged Nato allies to immediately militarise space.

Ahead of today’s Nato ministerial meeting in Brussels, he said: “I really would like to get these partnership to be more than just data sharing partnerships and really move towards mission sharing.

“We’re stronger together.

“For example – well, I talked about hosted payloads of satellites. We have other satellites that feed information into our situational awareness catalogue… We have partnerships in communications systems. So, I think there’s great opportunity here to develop capabilities that will be mutually beneficial for all of our countries."

Nato has been put under pressure in recent weeks after France’s Emmanuel Macron suggested the alliance was suffering from “brain death”.

Leaders are keen to use a summit in Watford, on December 3-4, to show that the defence pact is still fit for purpose as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said: “Reports of Nato’s death are greatly exaggerated.”

The security bloc will also unveil a new policy aimed at defending its members against China’s military ambitions.

Beijing has the second-largest defence budget, behind the United States, and has bolstered its naval ranks with 80 ships and submarines in the past five years.

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has taken a break from the general election campaign to attend the ministerial meeting in preparation for next month’s leaders’ gathering.

He said: “The UK is a founding member of Nato and has played a key role in the Alliance for 70 years. Today is a chance to work with our closest allies on shared defence and security challenges, including hybrid threats and international terrorism.

“We look forward to the UK hosting NATO leaders in December, and celebrating Nato’s 70th anniversary and discuss how to further strengthen the Alliance.”

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