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Tags: nato | sweden | finland | russia | uk

Experts: Expansion Will Create Opportunities, Challenges for NATO

Experts: Expansion Will Create Opportunities, Challenges for NATO
President Joe Biden chats with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a group photo at the NATO Summit on June 29 in Madrid, Spain. (Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 29 June 2022 06:24 PM EDT

This month culminated in a long-anticipated NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit in Madrid, Spain. Among the items on the agenda for the member-nations are: Russia; the potential admission to NATO of Sweden and Finland; and the role that collective security will play in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

A recent talk convened at the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) in London brought together civil service leaders, journalists, and academicians to discuss the agenda and likely outcome of the summit. 

The experts on the panel were: Alice Billon-Galland, a research fellow of the Institute's Europe Program; Angus Lapsley, CMG, director for Euro Atlantic security in the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; Luis Simón, senior analyst and director of Elcano; and Federico deTorres Muro, director general for foreign policy and security in the Minister of Foreign Affairs office for the Spanish government.

Muro opined that the prospects of expanding the league "is proof that NATO is still alive and has something to say. On the other hand, we need to strengthen the quality of our democracies."

On Russia, Muro stressed that NATO "needs to promote free-thinking, as well as thinking of how we will coexist with Russia in a post-Ukraine world."

Muro concluded by stating that the Spanish government will meet the 2 percent GDP commitment (the required bare minimum amount to be a member state).

However, he quickly pointed out, "there is work to be done to persuade the public of its necessity."

The U.K.'s Lapsley began his commentary speaking about the prospects of Norway and Finland joining NATO and touting the opportunity "as a plus for the Alliance." He added that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was the "biggest strategic shock since 9/11" and that the real priorities for NATO should be "to modernize our technology and [look at] how to use those capabilities to make our forces work much better than our opponents."

While Lapsley did not specifically name a set of countries that would be a viable option for expansion, he did say that they would be of a "robust and resilient [character]" — an obvious reference to Sweden and Finland.

Billon-Galland believes that this summit will be different than those in the past. She said that the agenda and momentum will "focus on updating [the alliance's] deterrence structures, and that a lot of changes have been in the making for quite some time."

"[T]en years ago, there was no discussion of China," she declared, "but now there is an understanding that we must continue to look at the issue."

She also stressed that "there has to be an awareness in NATO to not over-expand its authority" and that "acting partnerships will be crucial."

Simón addressed the change in political landscape in the pre-Ukraine and post-Ukraine world. In his words, "pre-Ukraine discussions were on a post-Cold War trajectory, but now great power competition is back. European security has now shown itself to be impacted by external issues."

As to the recent China-Russia agreement of a few months ago, the impact according to Simón is "without China's support the war would have been a series of compromises."

Simón concluded that "as long as the collective securities of Europe and Asia hinge upon the U.S. and rely on the U.S. defense resources, accommodations will be made."

Newsmax asked the panel to address the need to combat the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (China's foreign policy to promote economic activity in other countries around the world so that other countries support and give access to China) given the new strong relations between Russia and China. Simón addressed the question by calling for a need for "more systematic views on Russia, China, and their evolving relationship and how we see that going forward. I think that we need to negotiate a narrative on how we talk about it because that will help the risks leaning on Russia to restrain China and the concept of leveraging Russia against China in the long term.

"At the end of the day, whatever we think we can do in NATO or our partners think we can do in relation to China or Russia or with manipulating their relationship that we stay on the same page. Otherwise, there is a risk that we may draw different conclusions about either powers trajectory of how that the relationship may evolve and frame our perceptions differently," Billon-Galland stated.  

"The economic committee has discussed it, but the real question is what do allies want to do about it and deal with it within in NATO. Many European ally countries do not want to bring it into NATO and make NATO an economic and defense collective security, and they do not want to ally themselves too much with the U.S."

She also believes that the question of new NATO members would likely be addressed by the European Union Parliament but noted that because of Brexit that the U.K. would be "in an interesting place in addressing the issue."

Other questioners asked Muro to address the report that Spain was planning to send military aid to Ukraine before being intercepted by the German government. Appearing apprehensive, Spain's Miro replied that the Spanish government was in talks with the German government, "but has not decided yet. However, that decision needs to take what is happening in Ukraine into consideration."

As to whether NATO will fight the war in Ukraine, the U.K.'s Lapsley said "it's very clear that NATO will not be fighting this war in Ukraine, and that no NATO ally is vying for that. What allies are doing for Ukraine is interesting because they know that they have the backstop of the collective security, and that is specifically true for smaller allies. NATO has provided training for Ukraine in the past, and whether that should come back and what that will look like will be an interesting question."

The final question of the exchange was the most provocative: Is NATO still a relevant collective security apparatus or, as French President Emmanuel Macron put it, "braindead"?

Lapsely shot back: "NATO was an organization to protect member countries and no member has been attacked since its formation. If you go back to the last strategic concept, it starts off with the phrase that Europe has never been freer and more secure. You couldn't say that today because a part of Europe has been traumatized by the invasion of Ukraine. However, NATO never set out to protect Ukraine and that's why we must grapple with how or if we are going to protect surrounding countries of NATO that are not protected by Article V [of the NATO Charter] and that collective defense guarantee. We didn't anticipate the challenge faced by those countries, but now we see it."

NATO's further relevance in the world will inevitably be highlighted at its coming conference. NATO, to be sure, was not aware of the Russian reinvasion of Ukraine. Just what it is aware of and how it deals with the uncharted future of Ukraine may well determine its future and its fate.  

(Michael Cozzi is studying for his Ph.D at Catholic University in Washington DC)

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Among the agenda items at NATO's summit: Russia; the potential admission of Sweden and Finland; and the role that collective security will play in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
nato, sweden, finland, russia, uk
Wednesday, 29 June 2022 06:24 PM
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