For the first time since the Cold War, NATO is boosting defense funding, increasing its combat-ready contingent sevenfold, and will help Kyiv defeat Moscow.
The alliance also officially invited Finland and Sweden into its ranks after Turkey had agreed not to block the bloc's expansion. In addition, the participants in the Madrid summit adopted a new Strategic Concept for the next decade.
NATO's five biggest challenges
This week's NATO summit falls on the 73rd anniversary of the Alliance's history. The main subject was the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is called the biggest strategic shock for the West since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the BBC reports.
Here are the five most important issues that the participants of the summit focused on:
- How to avoid the escalation of the war in Ukraine
This refers to the spread of the war beyond the borders of our state and the direct entry of NATO into it. The biggest challenge for the Alliance is helping Kyiv in a way that does not directly involve its troops and face Russia in a fight without an intermediary.
We already reported that at first the Western countries had not provide heavy weapons to Ukraine, fearing to provoke Vladimir Putin, but then they had changed their strategy, taking into account the atrocities of the Russians in the occupied territories and the non-working schemes of any diplomacy with a terrorist country.
The threat of escalation is very real, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, quoted by the BBC.
"We must always be ready to fight... because it is becoming increasingly clear that President Putin cannot be deterred by threat of punishment or the costs imposed upon his people," Wallace said.
- How to maintain the West’s unity in helping Ukraine
Most likely, the invasion of Donbas alone would not have led to such a decisive response from the West, admits the BBC. But the attempt to occupy all of Ukraine with an attack from three sides has resulted in six packages of economic sanctions, the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline launch, and significant military and financial assistance to Kyiv.
So far, problems in unity still remain: Western Europe is trying to be more cautious, Eastern Europe (the Baltic countries and Poland) demands a tough response to Putin, and Hungary, which is dependent on the Russian Federation, buys gas for rubles and tried to block the oil embargo.
- How to protect Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
It is the Baltic countries and Poland that can become a major flashpoint between Nato and Russia. Moscow has already directly threatened countermeasures after Lithuania blocked the transit of a number of goods to Kaliningrad.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is criticizing NATO for not preparing enough for a Russian invasion. On the eve of the summit, Baltic leaders demanded that at least one unit of NATO forces be deployed in each of the three countries.
- How to persuade Turkey not to block accession of Scandinavians
Ankara blocked Sweden and Finland from joining the bloc to the utmost, accusing them of supporting the Kurdish rebels, whom Turkey calls terrorists.
But on June 28, the three countries managed to reach an agreement and signed a memorandum of mutual assistance.
- Urgently increase defense spending
NATO members are currently required to spend 2% of their annual GDP on defense, but not everyone follows it. We already reported that Donald Trump at one time had threatened to withdraw the United States from the alliance because of this.
After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the amount of 2% should be the minimum one.
Strengthening in the East and new sanctions
After four months of full-scale war in Ukraine, NATO plans to put 300,000 NATO soldiers on high alert for the first time since the Cold War, CNN reports.
The increase in NATO combat-ready is sevenfold, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed.
"Russia has chosen confrontation instead of dialogue. We regret that — but of course, then we need to respond to that reality," he explained.
The US also agreed to the purchase of an advanced medium-to-long-range missile defense system requested by Kyiv.
Even ahead of the summit, US President Joe Biden and American allies in Europe announced their commitment to change the dynamics of hostilities in Ukraine.
On June 28, the US announced new sanctions against Moscow, including a ban on gold imports and an impact on Rostec.
Moreover, the Americans detected "businessmen" who traded in spare parts for the Russian defense industry through the FSB and included them in the sanctions list. The G7 leaders also announced funding of up to $5 billion for global food security.
Putin's machismo and victory for Ukraine
- If Putin were a woman, he would not have invaded Ukraine.
This opinion was expressed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the BBC reports in an article dated June 29. The politician is convinced that the invasion of "crazy macho" is a perfect example of toxic masculinity and called for more women to be elected to positions of power.
- Show pecs to Putin
The comment echoes Johnson's jokes about the Russian president during a discussion between G7 leaders in Germany.
There, leaders moked Putin's machismo, and Johnson jokingly offered to take their jackets off and show their pecs to prove that the West is no softer than Putin when it comes to such threats.
"The first lesson is that if Vladimir Putin was hoping he would be getting less Nato on his western front as a result of his unprovoked, illegal invasion of Ukraine, he's been proved completely wrong," he stressed.
- Victory first, negotiations later.
In another article, the BBC quoted British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as saying:
"We have to defeat Russia first, negotiate later."
"It's absolutely imperative that we secure Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. And it's imperative for the sake of European security, freedom and democracy, and it's the only way that we are going to achieve a lasting peace in Europe."
New NATO Concept for 10 years
During the summit in Madrid, the Alliance adopted NATO's Strategic Concept for the next decade, DW reports.
This Concept involves the following steps, according to Sky News:
- Increasing funding and strengthening the Eastern Front
NATO will strengthen forward defense, including combat groups in the East (as we have mentioned above, up to 300,000 people).
The plan will include an increase in air defense capabilities and an update of support for Ukraine: this refers to the supplies of:
- security equipment;
- Tactical Combat Casualty Care equipment;
- body armor;
- hundreds of portable anti-drone systems;
- equipment to counter chemical and biological threats.
"Ukraine can count on us for as long as it takes," Jens Stoltenberg stressed.
- Russia as a direct threat
According to the new concept, Russia is described as the most significant and direct threat to the security and stability of the Alliance's allies. The Kremlin has been directly accused of seeking to establish a sphere of influence and direct control through coercion, subversion, and annexation.
"Moscow's military buildup, including in the regions of the Baltic, Black, and Mediterranean Seas, together with its military integration with Belarus, challenges our security and interests," the document says.
- Threat of nuclear war
The document also expresses concern over the modernization of Russian nuclear forces and Moscow's threats to use nuclear weapons. In response, the Alliance promised to significantly increase deterrence and defense capabilities and called on Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine.
- Another threat from China
The Strategic Concept also describes China as a challenge to Alliance interests, security, and values.
According to the bloc's leaders, Beijing is seeking to undermine the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains.
Who will be next? Everyone
Commenting on the new plans to strengthen NATO, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that Russia did not want to stop in Donbas or somewhere in the south of Ukraine:
"It wants to devour all of us, city after city, and then everyone in Europe whom it considers its property. This is the true goal of Russia. The question is, who's next? Moldova? Or the Baltic countries? Or Poland? The answer is everyone."
Speaking to the summit participants via video link, the President of Ukraine called for providing Kyiv with advanced anti-missile and air defense systems and artillery, which would help break Russia's tactics of destroying cities and terrorizing the civilian population of Ukraine.
The President also called on the international community to isolate Russia and provide Kyiv with new security guarantees.
"I can say what we need: we need security guarantees. Either urgent help for Ukraine that will be enough to win, or a postponed war between Russia and you. You are now adopting an Alliance strategy for 10 years. 126 days have already passed since a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Cruise missiles, torture, murder of children, rape of women... We don't have 10 years. Do you have them? Are you sure about this?"
Conclusions for Ukraine
The Alliance is significantly expanding its capability to protect the eastern countries of Europe in case of an escalation of the war beyond the borders of Ukraine, as well as the capability to help Kyiv.
What is important in the leaders' statements is that they backed off from previous attempts to negotiate diplomatically with Putin and stated directly that they should help Ukraine win the war, and only then sit down at the negotiating table with a terrorist.