Global NATO Alliance Summit

Published on July 7th, 2016 | by Lidija Bojčić


NATO in the light of new challenges

During the upcoming two days (July 8- 9) 28 Heads of State or Government of NATO members will hold their summit in Warsaw, and participate in Montenegro as an observer. Summit will mainly deal with the definition of their future policies and actions versus Russia and the events in the Middle East and North Africa.

The past two years have been challenging for European Security and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Russia’s behavior in the international arena has changed the nature of the debate on the future of Europe’s relations with Moscow. At the same time, a new and dangerous threat known as the Islamic State, originated south of Europe, has led to the terrorist attacks in the cities of the West and the dramatic wave of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe. These two aspects are the key long-term challenges for the security of European countries. At the summit in Warsaw will discuss the response of NATO to these threats on its eastern and southern borders. In connection with these changes in the environment, the Alliance has taken modest steps to the summit in Wales in September 2014, but it was not enough. It seems that there will be a stronger and more specific response to the Warsaw Summit in the next two days. One of the big questions might be: what is the role of nuclear policy of NATO in strategic intimidation? This topic is still under discussion among members of the Alliance, after years of neglect. Given the sensitivity of relations with Russia, this theme will surely find in the debate at the summit in Warsaw.

There are different interpretations of the deterioration of relations with Russia. Russia has repeatedly stated its opposition to NATO enlargement, while Europe is interpreted Russia’s actions as fear of the West, concerns about conventional inferiority in terms of military power, the unwillingness of accepting Western norms and values ​​as equivalent to Russian values ​​combined with a penchant for strong autocratic leadership as Russian policy under President Putin. But there are other interpretations according to which Moscow sees the weakness of Europe and exploit it, and slowly moves territory to other countries in their environment, without considering the consequences for international stability. These considerations provide strategic implications for the preparation of NATO. If Putin really fears of the West, then NATO should avoid strong military action that would exacerbate that fear, and that could lead to the consequences of the arms race, or which could cause a crisis spiraling out of control. Instead, the Alliance should emphasize dialogue, soft power and take the discourse convincing Moscow that the West’s benevolent intentions. On the other hand, if Putin opportunist and used the weakness of the West, Europe should respond by strengthening the military forces to show that they will not allow such behavior and that NATO cohesive military alliance that can not be daunting. This is especially important after Brexit where the European Union has shown weakness in the political sense, and NATO remains the only guarantor of European unity and security.

During the Ukrainian crisis, the West’s response to the militancy of Moscow was slow and modest, rather than policies of Russia unknown, mostly due to the lack of knowledge in the understanding of Russia in the past 25 years. Events in 2014 forced the Alliance to reconsider its former Strategic Concept in 2010. Russian foreign policy conduct in the Crimea, in Ukraine, and openly attacking the Alliance’s statements came as a shock to most Member States. Russian behavior in the east and the rise of new threats in the south forced the Union to respond in a way that does not sit still.

The threat came back, and most members of the Alliance was not immediately prepared to deal with it, either militarily or politically. It is now clear to dangerous military imbalance in Eastern Europe could be used by Moscow. NATO so far has not solved, because most of the declarations of the summit in Wales this is not reflected. The policy of NATO towards Russia in the first two years after Ukraine and Crimea was relatively cautious: modestly improved conventional forces in the region, stopped every practical cooperation with Russia, the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States. Current discussions within the Alliance is whether to emphasize defense or dialogue.

However, in the last two years, the return of Russia to the international scene is an existential threat to the interests of the Union, in the opinion of most members. But not everyone agrees that the members on the extent of the threat from the East. Some Member States seek first addressing the threat from the south, and they want to see a strategy that deals with either side, or strategy that balances the NATO Response to a threat from any direction. This discussion is threatening the cohesion of the Alliance, risking the formation of cracks between the four groups of countries: those with borders with Russia, which is the color of any weaknesses; those that are more concerned with Mediterranean issues such as migration, maritime security and the state of failed states in North Africa and the Middle East; those who like to see a balanced approach to the assessment of threat from all sides; and those who are not sure which approach is the best.

At the summit in Wales in September 2014, the Alliance has developed several initiatives that are intended as a conventional dam of Russian threats eastern side of the Union. These measures have made the Alliance stronger, giving a size of confidence in the security of NATO allies in the east, which are very intimidated by the Russian army. Some measures are short-term improvements, while others require long-term adaptation. Almost all were focused on the east side. As a result, growing criticism that the Alliance has neglected its southern side, and that it did not create a policy to solve two immediate threats: illegal migration and terrorism. These threats will most likely be addressed at this summit, and will be officially NATO’s adaptation to the new conditions in their immediate environment.

The questions in this adaptation can be divided into three categories: military, political and institutional. In the political area, Russia dominates current thinking. Area policy requires adjustments that include crisis management, synchronizing with NATO policy, expansion and open-door policy, capacity building, defense, support Ukraine’s,  future role in Afghanistan and interoperability between partners. There is also debate over whether to revise the current NATO Strategic Concept, approved in Lisbon in 2010, which is focused on the implementation of the Action Plan for preparedness, including all its different elements: a very high willingness Joint Task Force, expansion and rejuvenation of NATO forces for response, creating a number of new regional centers, increasing number of exercises and pre-positioning of equipment in the affected areas. Equally important is the issue of hybrid warfare and how to respond to threats in the lower end of the spectrum of conflict – for example, economic measures and strategic communication campaigns. Developing programs and plans focusing on missile defense, cyber defense, joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and nuclear deterrence.

Institutional issues are key to the success of all political and military initiatives. This includes permanent measures NATO reform, including the possible reorganization of the operating structure of the Alliance, defense budget and relations with the European Union. In order to achieve its security objectives, NATO must maintain or improve its relations with other multinational organizations, including the European Union, the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the African Union, the Council for cooperation in the Gulf and the Arab League. Most of these initiatives shall be declared at the summit in Warsaw as successful completion or at the end.


Probable agenda items Warsaw Summit could include:

Adopted Initiative summit in Wales: evaluation of their implementation and effectiveness.

Russia: how will NATO try to deal with Moscow? Do more to normalize relations, including the exchange of regular dialogue?

Ukraine: Can or should the Alliance to do more to support Ukraine as a partner?

Islamic countries: the role of NATO, if any, in the fight against the Islamic State?

Hybrid War: NATO’s new strategy to hybrid threats that will provide guidelines for dealing with such challenges that are lower on the spectrum of conflict.

Collective defense: that more answers will take the Alliance in the Baltic countries in order to ensure their protection?

Deterrence: whether the Alliance adopt a clear position on nuclear weapons as one of the foundations for their security?

Expansion: Montenegro should join the Alliance this year. Will NATO continue its open door policy for further membership?

Partnerships: How the Alliance will apply lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan?

Migration: NATO has no official role in that area, but the requirements of the public against terrorists can lead to a re-examination of its role in this problem.

Counterterrorism: Alliance can be found under pressure to improve or extend its counterterrorism policy.

Cohesion Alliance: The Alliance must ensure that it remains a military alliance “all for one, one for all”, while avoiding potential cracks around the definition of what a threat it faces, which threats are most important and how to respond to them in a balanced and appropriate manner.

At the summit, the Alliance must establish its credibility as a strong, powerful war machine in the eyes of its allies, partners and enemies. At the same time, we must not forget that the political organization with responsibilities obtained from the Washington Treaty, which has the effect of outside military defense. Due to Russian military exercises in the past two years with nuclear weapons, the Alliance will have to focus not only on the conventional aspects of collective defense and deterrence, but also on its nuclear dimension. Officially, the Alliance maintains that deterrence is based on an appropriate mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forces, and that while nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. This requires that NATO must be strong, well-trained, modern, reliable and nuclear power.

NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) was adopted in 2012, but this estimate was made before the current problems with Russia, so there are requirements that DDPR should be considered in light of these changed circumstances. The current NATO nuclear weapons is now called a political weapon, which aims to prevent aggression against the Alliance and provide security. Nuclear aspect of defense is experienced decreased interest and attention from 1990 to the end of the Cold War, the disappearance of opponents. Today, the Alliance has no official opponents, but there is no predetermined targets including nuclear weapons. Officially, NATO said that the current circumstances should be considered the use of nuclear weapons is very small. However, Russia’s behavior in the last two years has led to a renewal of interest in civilian and military leaders of nuclear weapons. There are differences of opinion within the Alliance on the extent to which NATO should emphasize its nuclear deterrent with regard to Russia’s actions: whether or mitigate prominent nuclear aspect of NATO forces.

Currently, Europe and North America, linking the two continents have achieved a joint nuclear security whose existence gives security among members of the Alliance, and creates uncertainty in the minds of potential opponents. However, a large number of member countries of the Alliance believes that the current nuclear deterrent option is no longer sufficient to deter Russia. The conclusion that follows the long-term adaptation of the Alliance to the new security environment and requires steps that will be a return to the Cold War. Some of the member countries seek increased presence of NATO to the borders of Russia. This new reality will have implications for the Alliance. For example, this will mean an increase in the military presence in the peripheral parts of the Union near by Russia and the permanent stationing of combat forces in these regions. This will require NATO to strengthen its force structure, including ground forces, aviation and other long-range capability of combat shock, with credible nuclear deterrence as a lock. Furthermore, it will improve the existing command structures. It will certainly be expensive, but will be required from the State Union to respect their financial commitments, and probably increase the previous amount.

The conclusion is that NATO remains the ultimate guarantor of European security. Today the Alliance again puts more emphasis on its core mission of collective defense. As a political and military alliance, its primary mission is the defense of its member states and vital interests. At the summit in Warsaw, members of the Alliance may remind the world, including the potential enemies and its release on the their responsibility.

NATO Planning in Europe

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