Ahead of the summit, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO will greatly increase the number of troops on high alert from 40,000 to over 300,000 – its “biggest overhaul” since the Cold War.
“Russia has moved away from the partnership and the dialogue that NATO has been trying to establish with Russia for many years,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels on Monday.
“They have chosen confrontation instead of dialogue. We regret it – but it is clear, then we must respond to that reality.”
The two-day event is intended to chart a course “for a new security reality”, which will involve building NATO battle groups in Eastern Europe to “brigade levels”, Stoltenberg added.
At the summit, NATO is expected to change its language on Russia from the existing wording describing Moscow as a strategic partner.
“I expect the Allies to make it clear that Russia poses a direct threat to our security, to our values, to the rule-based international order,” Stoltenberg said.
Macron concludes the French EU Presidency with four global summits Still no peace in Europe 25 years after the signing of the Constitution of NATO and Russia
On Sunday, thousands of people took to the streets of Madrid to condemn the summit. Protesters say rising defense spending in Europe is a threat to peace.
At the same time, Spain has lobbied for NATO to pay more attention to security threats on its southern flank with Africa – a major gateway to Europe for irregular migration.
Madrid is equally concerned about lawlessness and violent Islamist movements in the Sahel region.
“We have this war in Europe, but the situation in Africa is really worrying,” said Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles.