Madrid – NATO leaders concluded their three-day meeting in Madrid on Thursday with the Western Security Alliance strengthening its defenses against Russian aggression, warning of global challenges from China and inviting neutral countries Finland and Sweden to the group.
US President Joe Biden described the summit as “historic”.
“The last time NATO drafted a new mission statement was 12 years ago,” Biden said, referring to a document also known as the Alliance’s Strategic Concept.
“At that time, it characterized Russia as a partner, and it did not mention China. The world has changed, changed a lot since then, and so has NATO. At this summit, we gathered our alliances to meet both of the direct threats that Russia poses to Europe. “And the systemic challenges that China poses to a rules-based world order. And we have invited two new members to join NATO,” said Biden.
Biden reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has only strengthened NATO.
“He tried to weaken us, expecting our determination to crack but he gets exactly what he did not want,” Biden said. “He wanted the ‘Finlandisation’ of NATO. He got the ‘NATOisation’ of Finland.”
On Wednesday, Putin dismissed the impending expansion of the Western alliance.
“With Sweden and Finland, we do not have the problems we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, continue,” Putin told Russian state television.
“But they must understand that there was no threat before, while now, if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we must respond in kind and create the same threat to the territories from which threats against us are created,” he warned.
When it comes to expanding, NATO leaders have agreed on a massive increase in troop placements in Europe. A total of 300,000 troops will be on high alert across the continent from next year to defend themselves against potential military attacks by Moscow against any member of the alliance – what Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg characterized as “the most serious security crisis” since World War II.
A general view of the North Atlantic Council’s meeting of Heads of State at the NATO Summit at the IFEMA Arena in Madrid on 30 June 2022.
To strengthen NATO’s defense, the United States will also establish a permanent headquarters for the US 5th Army Corps in Poland, add a rotating brigade of 3,000 soldiers and 2,000 other personnel to its headquarters in Romania, and send two more squadrons of F-35 fighter aircraft to Great Britain.
Biden reaffirmed commitments from other Western leaders and said the United States would stand firm against Russia’s aggression. He gave no indication that the conflict would end anytime soon, suggesting that Americans would have to put up with high gas prices any longer.
“As long as it takes, Russia can in fact not defeat Ukraine and go beyond Ukraine,” he said.
Biden said the summit has brought together “democratic allies and partners from the Atlantic and the Pacific” to defend the rules-based global order against challenges from China, including its “abusive and coercive trade practices.”
NATO leaders have also called the “deepened strategic partnership” between Beijing and Moscow one of the alliance’s concerns.
Beijing does not provide military support for Russia’s war against Ukraine, but Chinese leader Xi Jinping has expressed support for Moscow on “sovereignty and security” issues. The country continues to buy huge amounts of Russian oil, gas and coal.
Biden noted that for the first time in the history of the Transatlantic Alliance, leaders in Asia and the Pacific from Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea attended the summit.
With the resurgence of major power conflicts, a strategic competitor in each region and a developing relationship between Russia and China, there are many common challenges that partners in Europe and Asia and the Pacific must discuss together, says Mirna Galic, senior policy analyst at China and East Asia at United States Institute of Peace.
Galic told VOA that these include issues already working on, such as cyber defense, maritime security and space, as well as those that will require some new thinking, such as medium-range nuclear power, missile defense, deterrence between theater and defense, and how to push back the use of force by violence in violation of international standards.
“The latter is certainly relevant to the Russian invasion of Ukraine but also has parallels with China and Taiwan, which is why Ukraine is seen as more than a European security issue,” Galic said.
In his remarks at the end of the NATO summit, Biden also praised the West’s latest opposition to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of several trillion dollars.
“We also launched what started as the Build Back Better concept, but it has turned into a partnership for global infrastructure and investment,” he said, referring to the “Build Back Better World” initiative announced at the 2021 meeting of the Group of Seven leaders in Cornwall, UK and re-launched earlier this week as PGII at the G-7 summit of leading industrialized nations in Krün, Germany.
Officials say PGII will offer developing countries $ 600 billion in infrastructure funding by 2027 and be a better alternative to China’s BRI, which critics have described as “debt-ridden diplomacy.”