Increased US military presence in Eastern Europe and increased military aid to Ukraine — with fuel, medical supplies, bulletproof vests and anti-drone systems.
These were some announcements by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in its new plan to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, after a two-day summit that ended on Thursday (30/6) in Madrid, Spain.
The Western military alliance also updated its “strategic concept”, a document that sets out its military and security strategy for the next ten years, detailing the threats that Western democracies face and explaining how it intends to deal with them.
It is a text that drastically changes the view of Europe and the USA on their relations with China and Russia.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance founded in 1949 by 12 countries, including the US, Canada, France and the UK. Its members agree to help each other if any country in the alliance is attacked.
NATO was recently said to have been “brain dead”, but the entity has re-emerged after the invasion of Ukraine led by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Spain, US President Joe Biden said that NATO is “more needed now than ever before”.
Moscow considers NATO a threat. On Wednesday (29/6), Putin accused the organization of having “imperial ambitions” and of trying to assert its “supremacy” through the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
At the Madrid Summit, the military alliance underwent its biggest overhaul since the Cold War, according to Norwegian NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
We list three key themes to explain what the new strategy of the world’s largest military alliance is all about.
1. Increased spending and militarization
According to BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, the Russian invasion of Ukraine gave NATO a “50,000-volt shock”.
One of the direct consequences of the Russian “threat” is that some countries in the alliance have agreed to spend more money on defense.
The UK has pledged to increase spending to the equivalent of 2.5% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product, the sum of a country’s goods and services) by 2030 and has indicated it would pressure other Western allies to also increase their budget, the former said. -British Minister Boris Johnson.
The US announced that it would increase its military presence across Europe in response to the invasion.
During the Madrid summit, Biden announced that the union would be “strengthened in all directions, in all domains: land, air and sea”.
The new plan will put more than 300,000 troops on high readiness next year, far more than the 40,000 currently.
A permanent headquarters will also be created in Poland, while the US will send new warships to Spain, fighter planes to the UK and ground troops to Romania.
Biden reiterated the alliance’s commitment to “defend every inch” of its territory.
“We are serious when we say that an attack on one of us is an attack on all,” he said.
2. Russia: from partner to threat
According to NATO’s new strategic concept, Russia is “the most significant and direct threat to the security of allies and to the peace and stability of the West”.
The document indicates that the military alliance can no longer consider Russia as a partner, but that it will remain “willing to keep the channels of communication open with Moscow” to avoid an escalation of tensions.
NATO said it cannot rule out the possibility of an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any of its allies.
At the Madrid summit, NATO accepted membership applications recently submitted by Finland and Sweden — two Nordic countries that have remained neutral for many decades. Its membership must be ratified by the governments of the organization’s 30 members.
Putin warned on Wednesday that if Finland and Sweden agreed to receive NATO troops and military infrastructure on their territory, Moscow would respond “symmetrically”. He said his country would have to “create the same threats to the territory from which threats against us are created”.
Helsinki and Stockholm’s accession to NATO would mark one of the biggest changes in European security in decades.
3. China, a “challenge”
The organization first identified China as a “systemic challenge to Euro-Atlantic security”. Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the alliance now faces an “era of strategic competition.”
“China is substantially increasing its forces, including nuclear weapons, intimidating its neighbors, including Taiwan,” he said. “China is not our adversary, but we must be aware of the serious challenges it poses.”
In the NATO strategic concept that was drafted in 2010, there was no mention of China. But the new text specifies that Beijing’s policies are challenges to the organization’s interests, security and values.
“The People’s Republic of China’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational and disinformation rhetoric target allies and undermine alliance security,” the document said.
NATO further warns that the Chinese government is “rapidly expanding” its nuclear capability without increasing transparency or engaging in good faith in arms control.
This not only worries NATO members, but also China’s neighboring countries in Asia and Oceania.
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