They decided to form a united front against China’s declared ambitions in Europe and “The growing threat” of the military strengthening of Russia. The declaration adopted on Monday June 14 by the leaders of the thirty member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) testifies to the concerns of the allies: Russia, China, new threats in space and the cyberspace, terrorism, the rise of authoritarian regimes.
Russia at the heart of concerns
Russia remains the number one concern of the Atlantic Alliance, as supported by the conclusion adopted at the 28e NATO summit:
“Russia’s growing military reinforcement, its more assertive posture, its new innovative military capabilities and its provocative activities, especially near NATO borders (…), constitute a growing threat to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. and contribute to instability along NATO’s borders and beyond. “
“Russia’s nuclear strategy and its comprehensive program of modernizing, diversifying and expanding its nuclear weapons systems – including increasing the number of its non-strategic nuclear weapons and their refinement – continue to contribute more to a more aggressive stance of strategic intimidation ”, also underlines the statement.
The allies also denounce “The intensification of hybrid activities”, especially “Attempts to interfere in the elections and democratic processes of the Alliance countries”, “Large-scale disinformation campaigns” and “Cyber attacks that target and disrupt the functioning of critical infrastructure in NATO countries”.
“As long as Russia does not demonstrate that it respects international law as well as its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to normal”, warned the allies. But “We remain open to periodic and substantial dialogue”, they assured.
“We are going to send an important message to Moscow: we remain united and Russia will not be able to divide us”, warned the Secretary General of NATO, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg. This statement comes as the President of the United States, Joe Biden, is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Poutin on Wednesday in Geneva (Switzerland), the last stop on his journey to Europe.
China’s ambitions in the sights
China has also become a source of concern for NATO members. “China’s stated ambitions and determined behavior represent systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and in areas of importance to the security of the Alliance.”, they still assert in their statement.
“China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, acquiring more advanced warheads and vectors to establish a nuclear triad, underlines the text. It also cooperates militarily with Russia, in particular by participating in Russian exercises in the Euro-Atlantic area ”.
The allies want to maintain a “Constructive dialogue” with Beijing “When possible” and call on China to “To respect its international commitments and to act responsibly in the space, cyber and maritime environments, in accordance with its role as a great power”.
“China is not our adversary, our enemy, argued Mr Stoltenberg. But we must face the challenges posed by China for our security ”. “We see that Russia and China are cooperating more and more lately, both politically and militarily. This represents a new dimension and a serious challenge for NATO ”, he explained.
Mr. Biden got that “The security challenge posed by China appears in the declaration”, even if some European allies, notably France, were reluctant.
Maintain a Western presence in Afghanistan
On Monday, NATO turned the page on Donald Trump, reassured by Mr. Biden’s stated desire to “Revitalize” the alliances of the United States. If the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, decided without consultation with its allies, has undermined the credibility of the organization’s foreign operations, the allies do not want to leave this country to the Taliban.
Funding will be provided to ensure the operation of the Kabul International Airport, which is essential for maintaining a Western presence in Afghanistan. Turkey has offered to maintain a contingent to ensure its security and the modalities of this military contribution have been discussed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with his counterparts.
“The Alliance must consult more and invest better”, also pleaded Mr. Stoltenberg. Europeans say they are ready to do so, after having obtained recognition for their contribution to collective security. The Americans still have to judge them “Reliable”. Twenty-one countries of the European Union are members of NATO, but only eight fulfill the commitment to devote 2% of their gross domestic product to their military expenditure. France is one of them, unlike Germany, Italy and Spain.