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After the summit in Madrid, what are NATO's weaknesses?

NATO raced against time to remake the strategic concept signed in 2010, which was in effect until then. At the time, the world geopolitics scenario was different and the United States and Europe did not expect, 12 years later, to relive with such intensity the ideological conflicts of the War. Cold and military risks on the verge of a Third World War.

In 2010, Russia was considered a NATO partner country and China did not even come close to be considered a military danger to the North Atlantic. This time, however, Russia has become “the most significant and direct threat to the security of allies and the peace and stability of the West.” China, on the other hand, has become “a systemic challenge to Euro-Atlantic security.”

The NATO Summit, which took place last week in Madrid, would have as its main theme the positioning in the Ukraine war. , which redefined the priorities of the military alliance. However, other problems entered the main agenda and weaknesses in the military organization became evident. Among them, the committed unity of the alliance and the need for investments in cybersecurity, in addition to the difficulty due to the dependence that Europeans have on American force.

Support of the NATO has not been enough for Ukraine

The last tranche of US military aid to Ukraine, signed in May, was 40 billions of dollars. Last week, the United States also announced the deployment of an advanced missile defense system, the same that protects Washington.

Despite being a significant boost to Ukrainian defense, the donations were not enough to prevent Russian troops from conquering key regions such as Luhansk last weekend. The territory is strategic for Russia, which intends to dominate the Donbas Basin region, partially dominated by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

Need for restructuring: Europeans depend on the US

Even after the meeting between the allied countries, Europe’s defense will continue to be substantially sustained by the United States, which currently has around 100 one thousand soldiers on the European continent.

During the summit in Spain, NATO sought to reinforce the importance of more evident European support in Ukraine and other countries most at risk, requesting in particular support from France and Germany.

Nine of 128 NATO countries allocate 2% of GDP to defense. But as the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, pointed out in Madrid, this is the “floor” and not the “ceiling” indicated as an investment in the security of the West.

The dependence that Europeans have towards the United States to ensure the security of the West can become dangerous, given that the country led by Joe Biden faces the impact of the growing economic crisis, with high inflation and rising fuel prices. It is not known how long the United States will be able to carry much of NATO’s livelihood on its back.

In an interview with the newspaper Le Figaro, the senior member of the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Georgetown University, Charles Kupchan, pointed out that this scenario could “make the American public sensitive to slogans that criticize the aid given to Ukraine as economic difficulties increase”.

Weakened unity

The difficulty in convincing Turkey to lift the veto of Sweden and Finland from joining NATO exposed the lack of unity in the military alliance Atlantic-European.

Another evidence of the difference in thoughts and priorities in the Organization is the way in which the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland position themselves in the face of the war in Ukraine and how they demand the presence of NATO.

The countries want, as soon as possible, a military reinforcement on the borders, especially Lithuania, which recently blocked the transit of goods through the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. For its part, Russia said that its response “will not only be diplomatic”.

Poland has also announced a few times, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the intention to define no-fly zones at the borders. . With that, if a Russian plane flies over the neighboring country, it could be shot down. As Poland is part of NATO, it would possibly be the expansion of the war.

However, while the Eastern European countries are more clearly positioned willing to face a bigger conflict, the other NATO members seek more diplomatic solutions.

Given that article 5 of the alliance defines that, if a member country is invaded, it will be promptly protected, the lack of unity of NATO compromises the execution of this rule. Are all members ready to go to war?

Need to invest in cyber security

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The conflict in Ukraine made even more evident the need to gather efforts and investments for what goes beyond physical confrontation: virtual disputes.

In the last week of June, the American Microsoft said that Moscow attacked 128 targets around the world, including governments and humanitarian aid organizations, centers responsible for critical infrastructure in countries and information technology companies. In addition to the United States and NATO, Russia also tried to spy on Brazilian systems.

In 29% of attacks, hackers Russians managed to break into the computers. However, Microsoft did not detail which countries had data stolen or what kind of information the Russians were looking for.

General Philippe Lavigne, head of NATO’s transformation command, stressed the need to update the alliance cybersecurity. In an interview with Le Monde, the former Chief of Staff of the French Army explained that the operation needs to be “decentralized” from the United States “to be more reactive and more effective.”

“This will undergo a faster development of artificial intelligence and the use of destructive technologies”, explained Lavigne.

Threats from Russia and China

Since the years 1990, Russia was considered a NATO partner country. Since the invasion of Ukraine, however, it has become “the most significant and direct threat to the security of allies”, as defined by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Since the The European Union and the United States began to organize themselves to implement the first sanctions on Russia, divergences appeared in relation to how to apply them, fearing the risk of economic damage to European countries heavily dependent on Russian energy.

As sanctions continue and this weighs heavily on Europeans’ pockets, countries may clash over how to conduct punishments on Russia and declare opposition to Vladimir Putin’s moves on the continent.

But Russia is not NATO’s only problem. Despite not being cited as a “threat”, China was declared “a systemic challenge” to allies.

“The ambitions of the People’s Republic of China and its coercive policies challenge our interests, our security and our values”, wrote the Alliance countries. To reinforce, Stoltenberg stressed that “China is not an adversary, but we must be lucid”.

French President Emmanuel Macron, however, decided to make it clear during the event that “NATO is not an organization against China” and that “there is no logic of destabilization or hegemony” on the part of France.

If the Asian country is not an enemy, it remains to be seen how much other NATO countries are willing to position itself in the face of the undeniable dispute between the two greatest world powers, the United States and China, if it reaches the military level.

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