It’s been four months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the countries of the so-called West are still groping about how to respond to events. This week can be a step towards a uniform and lasting response. On the days 26 to 28 the 48 )th summit of the G7, in Germany, succeeded, in the days 28 to 30, by 35 th NATO summit. In the second case, the war in Ukraine will certainly be the main theme.
Even before the current conflict, at the end of January, we commented here in our space some of the reasons that explain the lack of a unanimous stance within NATO in relation to Ukraine. With the Russian invasion and months of conflict, however, the differences began to diminish, with the repercussions affecting all countries, albeit on different scales.
It is important to note that the differences began to diminish, but still exist. The interests of the US and the UK are one, those of the continental powers, France and Germany, are another, as are those of Eastern European countries or the interests of Turkey. Each of them is in a different situation and, above all, the eventual consequences of any action would not be felt uniformly.
War in Ukraine and guests
The current NATO summit also has as a preamble an interview with the organization’s secretary general. On the last day nineteen, Jens Stoltenberg said that the war in Ukraine “could take years”. In other words, it is from this premise that the bloc needs to negotiate among itself and determine its positions, which are no longer sufficient for the short term or limited to what was previously thought, that the conflict would be short.
One of the expressions of this need for long-term thinking is the fact that it will be a very packed summit in Madrid. The headquarters was chosen to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spain’s entry into the alliance. In addition to the NATO countries, leaders from the European Union, South Korea, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Georgia, Sweden and Finland will be present. The Ukrainian president will speak via video.
Outside the EU, guests are divided into three groups. Sweden and Finland, the two Scandinavian countries that are officially candidates to join the alliance; Georgia, a country that, although not officially a candidate, has been part of the expansion program since 2006 and is in a frozen conflict with Russia, in the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia ; finally, the countries of the Pacific Ocean.
These are invited with China as a common antagonist. Today, however, the economic issues of the war in Ukraine make dealing with China very close to dealing with Russia, as trade and economic relations between the two countries grow more and more. It will be the first time in history that the Japanese head of government will be at a NATO summit.
Japanese and Russian , including, are with increasingly sour relations, marked by the border dispute involving the three southern islands of the Kuril archipelago. The presence of Pacific countries is also linked to US interest in the main outcome of this summit. In Madrid, countries will adopt the new NATO Strategic Concept document.
The document is published every ten years, outlining the alliance’s main challenges, its objectives, its interpretation of the global scenario and which actions that will eventually be adopted by the alliance. The current document in force was published on 2010 and is considered obsolete, see recent events in Europe. The US government wants the new document to have a more assertive language in relation to the Chinese.
There will certainly be a change in language in relation to Russia, considered a “strategic partner” in the current document. Another important issue that will be debated is the rise of Finland and Sweden, which face Turkey’s veto. The Erdogan government accuses Scandinavians of “supporting terrorism” by taking in Kurdish refugees, including members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
There is even speculation that a bilateral meeting between Erdogan and Joe Biden will be held. For a country to join NATO, it needs the agreement of all members, which, in practice, gives the Turkish government a “veto power”. In practice, Turkey is “making it difficult to sell the facility”, bargaining its position in exchange for compensation, such as the country’s return to US arms programs.
Further NATO review
The supply of weapons and, especially, training for the Ukrainian forces should also be discussed.To date, there have been few concerted actions in this regard, with national initiatives, such as those of the US. eventual bloc solution should involve training Ukrainian forces on German territory, in addition to providing more advanced weaponry.
Finally, the Baltic states wish to push for an expansion of the NATO Rapid Response Force, which is based in Eastern Europe. Currently it has forty thousand soldiers, but the plan is to expand its size to up to three hundred thousand, spread over Eastern Europe and Germany. The project goes through logistical and economic issues, since there are costs involved .
According to Stoltenberg, it would be “the biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War”. Years ago, when Donald Trump was elected, many people questioned the continued existence of NATO. Today, a few years ago, the organization is undergoing a process of expansion, review and consolidation. Another consequence of the invasion of Ukraine.