GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 640, 3 July 2022

NATO Madrid Summit 2022: Leaders discuss emerging challenges to secure the Euro-Atlantic
Padmashree Anandhan

What happened?

On 29 June, leaders of the NATO member countries issued the Madrid Summit Declaration and released the NATO 2022 strategic concept during the NATO summit held in Spain. The summit focused on improving deterrence, investing more in defence, Russia's growing aggression, and increasing support for Ukraine. Other regional threats were also discussed, such as dealing with the People's Republic of China and asymmetric risks arising from cyber, space, and technology domains.  

During the two-day summit, the leaders revealed the NATO 2022 Strategic concept as a guidebook to streamline NATO's actions towards the emerging security challenges in the region. The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "We will agree a new Strategic Concept, the blueprint for NATO into the future."

On the same day, US president Joe Biden said: "…Putin was looking for the "Finlandization" of Europe. He's going to get the "NATO-ization" of Europe. And that's exactly what he didn't want, but exactly what needs to be done to guarantee security for Europe."

On 29 June, responding to NATO's new strategic concept, State Duma's international affairs committee chairman, Leonid Slutsky said: "NATO's strategic concept is a blind alley. The Madrid summit's decisions jeopardize security on the continent and elsewhere." On 30 June, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the NATO summit stated: "They expect unconditional obedience from all states to their will, which reflects their egoistic interests - primarily, the US' interests."

What is the background?

First, NATO's challenges and objectives. The summit exposed the intensity of the challenges for NATO from growing Russian aggression, a shift in the Euro-Atlantic peace, emerging security threats in the domain of human security, climate, cyber, space, new technologies, and lastly, the need to stand for Ukraine. Keeping all the challenges in the front, NATO's key objective lies in adhering to Washington Treaty, Article 5, and collective defence as its core strategy. To deal with the security threats, it proposes to expand its member base globally and diversify its defence systems. When it comes to resolving, it prioritizes open communication over direct conflict. Therefore, while NATO projects itself as a military alliance, on the other, it also showcases itself as an effective platform to resolve matters.

Second, the focus on China and Asia-Pacific. The discussions, which revolve around addressing the Russian threat and expanding NATO's capabilities, diverted its attention to the People's Republic of China as a security challenge to the region. Due to this, the summit involved leaders from Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea for the first time to analyze the challenge it poses in terms of security, logistics, and economy. Its interest in Taiwan will be another area to look out for in the upcoming NATO strategies.

Third, deepening engagements within NATO and the search for a new outlook. The strategic concept adopted by NATO might be a key development to streamline its approach to its challenges. However, the trilateral meeting held by Stoltenberg was most significant to NATO. The settling of the national security issue with Turkey and persuading it to support Sweden and Finland in joining NATO is another key achievement of NATO. The Nordic and Baltic countries which feared Russian attacks and intrusion can now be assured of their security with NATO's support. Although the ratification process of each member country would take time, Finland and Sweden stepping out from their non-alignment principle give NATO an upper hand to expand its defence horizon and protect the Euro-Atlantic. 

What does this mean?

First, NATO as a uniting bloc against security challenges of the Euro-Atlantic. The world leaders through the summit have jointly vowed to boost NATO and its allies military, missile systems along with nuclear, and cyber capabilities. This means creating a united military posture to against Russia, to deal the security threat posed by China and largely to address the question of democracy and rise of authoritarian governments. With regards to Russia, NATO plans to follow its deterrence strategy until there is a direct provocation by Russia.

Second, the likely focus on NATO's enlargement. In the enlargement process, NATO showcases its open-door policy; with Sweden and Finland joining the alliance soon, it will add significant value to territorial and military expansion. However, much strategy does not seem to be drafted regarding securing the Balkan front or the Arctic. 

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