NATO to unveil new strategy in response to ‘direct threat’ from Russia

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Leaders of NATO countries are sitting down in Madrid for the second day of a summit that Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said will be “historic and transformative,” as the alliance revamps its strategy in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Stoltenberg said Russia’s war is presenting the most “serious security crisis” in decades and the “biggest challenge” NATO has faced in its history.

The military alliance is expected to unveil a new strategic concept at this summit on Wednesday, which Stoltenberg said will “state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security.”

“We are sending a strong message to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin: ‘you will not win’,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the summit’s host, in a speech.

A reinvigorated NATO

The strategic concept is updated around every 10 years to reaffirm “NATO’s values and purpose, and provides a collective assessment of the security environment,” according to the NATO website.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has galvanized a coordinated NATO response and reinvigorated the alliance, which French President Emmanuel Macron had called “brain dead” in 2019.

NATO leaders posing in a room with paintings

Leader’s of NATO countries gathered after arrival in Madrid on Tuesday evening

After decades of neutrality, Finland and Sweden are now expected to join the alliance after Turkey removed its objections to the Nordic countries’ membership on Tuesday evening. 

“We will make a decision at the summit to invite Sweden and Finland to become members,” Stoltenberg said Wednesday, calling it a “historic decision.”

NATO is also expected to carry out its largest increase of defense and deterrence capability since the Cold War. This includes having more combat-ready troops and pre-positioned military equipment stationed in Eastern Europe.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also expected to address the 30 NATO leaders by video link.

US to increase forces in Europe

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that NATO is needed more today “than it ever has been,” and that the alliance will be “strengthened in all directions across every domain — land, air and sea.”

The US will bolster its forces in Europe with two more warships stationed in Spain, two additional fighter jet squadrons to the UK and a new army headquarters in Poland, Biden said. 

The summit will send out the “unambiguous message” that NATO is strong and united, he added.

China listed in new NATO strategy

The new strategic concept will also include language identifying the growth of China’s military as a long-term strategic challenge for NATO

“I expect that allies will agree that China poses or is a challenge to our values, to our interests, and to our security,” Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday.

In the current NATO security concept from 2010, China is “not mentioned in a single word,” he added.

“China is not an adversary, but of course we need to take into account the consequences of our security when we see China investing heavily in new modern military capacity.”

wmr/fb (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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