The growing Russian threat is causing NATO leaders to boost operations among alliance members for the first time since the Cold War.

The alliance agreed Wednesday to widen operations along with improving cyber operations and capabilities.

The decision comes as tensions with Moscow are at their highest level in the years since the Cold War officially ended in 1991.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis briefed fellow defense ministers Wednesday morning about Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, underlining the nuclear risk that is a worst-case consequence of the bitter back-and-forth.

Meanwhile, NATO defense ministers gave their approval for plans that increase the alliance’s ability to monitor Russian submarines in the Atlantic Ocean, where there are vital underseas communications at risk of being disrupted.

The ministers committed to establishing a command structure aimed at clearing barriers that prevent NATO forces from being quickly deployed throughout Europe in the event war breaks out. Also, the added that cyberweapons would now have as large a role in NATO military planning as conventional weapons.

Analyst Comment: This is a continuation of NATO reverting back to its former Cold War status, given renewed Russian aggression as evidenced by the annexation of the Crimea and continued support for rebel factions in eastern Ukraine. These measures are long overdue.

Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 1: What are the latest indicators of a NATO-Russia conflict?  Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region.  Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.