NATO no longer sees limits to strengthening its positions in the east


Madrid is set to host a historic North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit this June, the first major one in years after the restricted formats imposed by the pandemic, but, fundamentally, due to the moment of enormous complexity as a result of the War in Ukraine, the conflict that has returned Europe to old times, that promoted the birth of the alliance in 1949.

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana believes that against the background of the events in Ukraine, the alliance no longer has restrictions on the deployment of forces in the east, arising from the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and NATO of 1997.

“I think that this act is not working because of Russia. How to define it is a matter of nuance, but Russia has largely withdrawn from this agreement with us. Therefore, we no longer have any restrictions on having a strong NATO presence on the eastern wing and ensuring that every square inch of NATO territory is protected by Article 5 of NATO and our allies,” said Geoana, who is based in Vilnius and quoted by BNS.

As per the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of 1997, NATO pledged not to permanently deploy significant forces in Central and Eastern Europe, including Baltic countries. Russia undertook in this agreement “to refrain from aggression against its neighbours”, and it does not comply with this, says Joana.

Therefore, in NATO, he said, there are no longer restrictions on deploying forces in the eastern wing. “Russia has actually cancelled any content of this constituent act,” Geoanė said.

The organisation’s deputy secretary-general said that the Baltic countries are asking to replace the international battalions stationed in them since 2017 with brigade units, which are several times larger.

Joane said that the alliance’s presence in the region would be strengthened in a number of areas, but the exact size of the force is not yet clear. He says the final decisions will be taken at the NATO summit in Madrid.

The new Strategic Concept of the North Atlantic Alliance is planned to be approved at the NATO summit in Madrid in June.

On May 18, The Washington Post wrote that the Baltic states and Poland have asked NATO to significantly expand the alliance’s military presence in their territories and deploy additional weapons, such as air defense systems, to prevent possible “direct Russian aggression.” The document proposes to send a military contingent of up to 20 thousand people to each of the countries.

NATO’s emerging global doctrine

The leadership of the North Atlantic Alliance announced that in June-July this year, it will publish a new NATO doctrine. The previous 11-page policy document for this military bloc was published in 2010.

From 1949 to 1991, 4 block concepts were developed. The first (1949-50) was aimed at “containment” of the USSR. The second became necessary because of the Korean War. The third was connected with the Vietnam War, and the intermediate, known as the “report of the three wise men” – foreign ministers of Canada, Italy and Norway, was the bloc’s reaction to the Suez crisis. Finally, the fourth – from 1968 – promulgated the “flexible response” doctrine principles. From 1991 to 2010, 3 alliance concepts were adopted.

The content of the latest manifesto was previously communicated to the general public through the work of the organisation’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg. On November 25, 2020, long before the Ukrainian crisis, he highlighted the main theses of the concept. He said that Russia and China are threats, and NATO is an alliance of North America and Europe.

In other words, NATO is turning from a conditional defense community into a supranational system-forming principle for confrontation between Russia and China.

How Russia perceives the new doctrine

It is necessary to understand how Russia sees NATO’s confrontation with Russia and China. As per Russian analyst Vladimir Pavlenko, in his article ‘What new NATO strategy Jens Stoltenberg unveiled’, the strategy of the collective West is to unite and maximise the activation of all its bridgeheads on the Eurasian limitrophe periphery – from Europe to Turkey, Israel and the Middle East and further to India, South Korea and Japan in transit through Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Something similar had been done in the past with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO).

How did NATO arrive at a new doctrine?

The content of the new NATO 2022 doctrine was revealed when Stoltenberg was interviewed for the Financial Times on October 19, 2021. In a conversation, he once again emphasised that China and Russia pose one big threat to the world. From the point of view of the NATO leadership, all the differences between China, Russia, the Asia-Pacific region and Europe are conditional. “This is one big security environment. The problem must be solved in a complex,” he said.

In principle, the logic of the new concept is already contained in the previous NATO strategy adopted in Lisbon in November 2010; in particular, in Articles 33 and 34, in which areas of tasks of the alliance are mentioned, which include collective defense, crisis management and safety.

Collective defense refers to the application of paragraph 5 of the Washington Treaty of 1949 on the joint participation in hostilities of all states in the event of an attack on one of the members.

The provision of the 2010 Concept of “crisis regulation” states, “crises must be overcome by a combination of political and military means before they affect the security and living space of the bloc.”

The concept of “security” is interpreted as “access to the North Atlantic Alliance for all European democracies that meet NATO criteria.” In other words, NATO decides for itself which state “meets” the criteria and which does not. That is, further expansion to the east is justified. In this light, it becomes clearer how the alliance intends to extend its activities to the entire Eurasian continent up to the Pacific Ocean.

Madrid Chapter

Madrid summit is with a very intense agenda, in which the new Strategic Concept is key. This text, approved every 10-12 years, the last time in Lisbon in 2010, is its most important document, second only to the Founding Treaty. The new Strategic Concept that will see the light of day in Madrid emanates from the so-called NATO 20-30 Process presented a couple of years ago and had three objectives: a more powerful NATO militarily, more global and more cohesive internally. These three sections are called to remain, but the events on February 24 of this year will have a powerful imprint.


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