The most important summit in generations … the challenges of “NATO” in a time of hot threats

Russia has transformed from a country with which NATO wanted to establish a strategic partnership in the vision published by the military alliance in 2010, to the most dangerous threat to European security, according to the newspaper “The Economist” in a long report in cooperation with NATO meetings.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine entering its fifth month, the alliance is holding its most important summit in generations, which will be a “turning point in its strength”, according to the description of its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, and notes that several important decisions will be made in it, including increasing the number of high-alert forces from 40,000 to “well over 300,000” soldiers.

On Tuesday, on the sidelines of the summit, US President Joe Biden stressed that NATO members are united in a common defense policy and are working on the implementation of Defense 360 ​​Strategy, which is involved in the development of the alliance’s defense, “and the strengthening of our deterrence and military might.”

He also stressed that NATO would focus on confrontation on all fronts in Europe, and “we will intensify sanctions against Moscow, and we will increase military support for Kiev.”

The US President and Prime Minister of Spain on the sidelines of the NATO summit

However, there are some challenges that the summit, which will continue until Thursday, will have to be worked on.

There are differences of opinion between allies over how far to go, and parts of the deal are still being negotiated, according to The Economist.

The magazine explains that although there are those who belong to the camp of hawks, such as Britain, Poland and other Eastern European countries, and eagerly want to emphasize that Russia remains a pariah state, on the other hand there are other countries such as Germany and France, whose President Emmanuel Macron reiterated during a visit to Kiev On June 16, he warned that Europe would finally have to deal with Russia again.

The leaders will also sign significant changes to the military stance of the coalition and its forces.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, NATO deployed multinational combat groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, countries where the threat was considered the most serious. These formations number five thousand, a force too small to stop a possible Russian invasion.

Another 4 battle groups are now being set up in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, reflecting the growing threat to the south, around the borders of Ukraine and near the Black Sea.

NATO members now seem to agree that they should be more than a minor obstacle to any Russian provocation, therefore they create forward defensive and deterrent forces, and seek to increase the number of high-alert forces to more than 300,000.

Perhaps most importantly, certain units will be assigned to specific regions, giving NATO members on the front lines confidence that sufficient forces will emerge in any crisis.

Stoltenberg boasts an “unprecedented” increase in defense spending for a number of NATO countries.

Three days after Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, Germany has promised to increase its defense spending to more than 2% of GDP, the NATO target, and other countries have already exceeded this level, such as Poland, which is close to 3% is.

With all this momentum, the common front has some notable gaps.

On 15 May, Finland and Sweden abandoned their last remnants of military neutrality and made offers to join NATO.

Many officials expected the Madrid summit to be a ceremonial occasion in which their membership would be approved, but instead it would offer strongly supported negotiations between the leaders of the two countries and Turkey, who opposed their accession before statements were made, Tuesday, of a breakthrough in this file.

NATO summit in Madrid

Talks between Turkey, Sweden and Finland on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid

Another bottleneck is China. In recent years, the alliance has confronted the policies with which China is increasingly influencing Europe’s security, either through its deep-seated partnership with Russia, or even its influence on technologies such as 5G mobile networks.

To this end, the Prime Ministers of Australia, Japan and New Zealand and the President of South Korea will attend the Madrid Summit as guests for the first time.

On the other hand, German officials warn that it is a “mistake” to bring China and Russia together and that the goal should only be to try to reduce systemic competition with China as far as possible.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is to work out the appropriate role for the coalition in Ukraine, whose capital, Kiev, was again bombarded by Russian missiles in the early morning hours of June 26.

While individual NATO members provided Ukraine with the largest arms transfer to any country in such a short period since World War II, the alliance as an organization provided only non-lethal aid, such as helmets and blankets.

On the other hand, Britain is calling for more direct coalition involvement in Ukraine, but other countries such as France, Germany and even the United States are opposed to this, on the grounds that it could give Russia an argument that it is fighting NATO, and the risk of escalation and slipping into a world war third.

But the summit in Madrid will unveil a comprehensive aid package to help Ukraine move from old Soviet-era military equipment Russia is fighting to modern NATO equipment.

It will also help Kyiv move more towards a decentralized command structure, rather than the top-down Soviet model it inherited, which has stalled the Russian military in recent months.

The magazine says that although changing the structure of the Ukrainian army will take years to work, “NATO’s commitment to this path is in itself a blow to Putin, who launched this war in part to make Ukraine’s political and to stop military integration with the West. ”

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