On day two of its annual summit, the alliance formally focused its strategy on Russia
The annual NATO summit continued in Madrid on Wednesday, where the leaders of the US-led military alliance agreed to adopt two new members and named Russia the main threat to the bloc.
China also found a place on the agenda, as did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who once again appealed to Western leaders for billions of dollars out of his taxpayers’ pockets.
A new strategy NATO leaders agreed on Wednesday to adopt a new one Strategic concept. This document serves as a policy outline describing the Alliance’s attitude towards non-members, partners and opponents. It was last updated in 2010.
As expected, the new version names Russia as “the most significant and direct threat” to the military bloc and accuses Moscow of one “pattern … of aggressive actions” towards the wider transatlantic society.
The document does not promise Ukraine a possible membership, but states that NATO will continue to do so “develop our partnerships” with both Ukraine and Georgia. While Moscow has since the end of the Cold War regarded NATO’s expansion into the former Soviet territory as an unacceptable security risk, the latest strategic concept insists that “NATO does not seek confrontation and does not pose a threat to the Russian Federation.”
NATO was founded in 1949 to counter the perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union. In its first ever strategic concept, adopted the following year, was the Alliance gave himself the right to defend the entire North Atlantic region “by all means possible with all types of weapons, without exception.”
New membersAfter several weeks of diplomatic strife, the alliance said in a statement that it had formally invited Sweden and Finland to become members. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the rapid accession of the Nordic countries as “unprecedented.”
Finland and Sweden, the latter of which has been neutral since the 19th century, applied to join the bloc in mid-May, just several months after Russia began its military operation in Ukraine.
However, the accession process was initially blocked by Turkey, which wanted both countries to end their support for organizations believed to be terrorist groups by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, and to lift an arms embargo on Ankara. After an agreement was reached on Tuesday, Erdogan declared it “Turkey got what it wanted,” and Finland and Sweden became observer states at the Madrid Summit.
NATO’s support for Ukraine comes with a substantial price tag, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told alliance leaders. In a video speech on Wednesday, Zelensky demanded that the West give him “urgent help enough for victory”, or deal with “a delayed war between Russia and you.”
The Ukrainian leader called for both military and financial support, saying his country needed $ 5 billion a month to cover its budget deficit alone. Despite a series of losses in Donbass – which has seen Russian troops occupy the key city of Severodonetsk and expand its control of Lisichansk since the weekend – Zelensky asked NATO to help him “End this war with a victory on the battlefield.”
To date, the United States has provided Ukraine with more than $ 55 billion in military and financial assistance, while the United Kingdom has donated more than $ 3.2 billion. The EU has contributed about $ 5.8 billion.
Warnings to China
While Russia dominated the discussion in Madrid, the alliance’s new strategic concept also indicated that of China “coercive policy challenges our interests, security and values,” and that Beijing’s ties with Moscow “contrary to our values and interests.”
Even though the policy document stated that NATO remained “open to constructive engagement” with China, some of the bloc’s top officials were less diplomatic on Wednesday. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced that China’s growing military power is presenting itself “a Euro-Atlantic security issue,” and warned Beijing that any attempt to seize control of Taiwan by force would be “a catastrophic miscalculation.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also called on China to condemn Russia’s operation in Ukraine, which Beijing has given no indication that it will do. Albanese said he had one “very successful” meeting with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and New Zealand at the summit, while Chinese officials have repeatedly accused Australia of trying to rally its allies into a “Asia-Pacific Version of NATO.”
Biden to put more boots on the ground
US President Joe Biden announced during Wednesday’s meetings that the US will intensify its military presence in Eastern Europe, set up a permanent headquarters in Poland, send two more F-35 jet squadrons to Britain and station 5,000 personnel in Romania.
Air defense and “other abilities” will be sent to Germany and Italy, Biden said, while the United States will have the number of fighters stationed in Spain from four to six.
The increase in military presence will bring the total number of US troops deployed in Europe to 100,000, according to a White House statement.