NATO summit opens amid warnings of ‘a more dangerous world’

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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On the eve of NATO’s annual summit, the head of the Western defense alliance called on member states to ramp up their military spending in an increasingly ‘unpredictable’ and ‘more dangerous world.

The NATO chief said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a “fundamental shift” in NATO’s defense approach. As preparations for the summit talks began on Tuesday, that shift was underlined when the military alliance announced it would be joined by two new members: Finland and Sweden.

Russia’s war against its closest neighbor has prompted Sweden and Finland to relinquish their long-standing non-aligned status and apply to join the military bloc.

In addition to welcoming new members, NATO allies at the summit will also agree to increase the strength of their Rapid Reaction Force by nearly eightfold, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops.

The new forces will be based in their home countries but will work for rapid deployment in specific countries on NATO’s eastern flank with Russia, where the alliance also plans to stockpile equipment and ammunition.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the summits on Wednesday and Thursday would provide a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world”.

“To defend in a more dangerous world, we need to invest more in our defense,” Stoltenberg said.

At the top of the leader’s agenda are strengthening defenses against Russia and supporting Ukraine in its fight against Moscow, which require a greater financial commitment from NATO members.

Only nine of NATO’s 30 members meet the organization’s target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense.

Spain, which hosts the summit, spends only half of it.


Set against the war between Russia and Ukraine backdrop, the three-day summit in Madrid will set the alliance’s course for years to come, including NATO’s new Strategic Concept – a set of priorities and goals formulated once every decade.

“A key point of the discussions will be how far we should go in NATO’s aid to Ukraine – and everyone here is deeply aware of the real danger involved in allowing President Putin to end this conflict. Painting as between Russia and NATO,” said Jonah Hull of Al Jazeera. Said.

Hull said from Madrid that there had been a reinforcement of battle groups in the Baltic states and four Eastern European countries since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“They will become brigade-sized battlegroups as a further deterrent to President Putin’s further advance into NATO countries,” he said.

China: friend or foe?

Member States will also try to reduce their divisions over how to deal with China, a formidable Russian ally.

The alliance’s new Strategic Concept is expected to outline NATO’s approach to cybersecurity to climate change – and China’s growing economic and military reach, as well as the growing importance and power of the Indo-Pacific region and how that relates to NATO.

For the first time, the leaders of Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand are guests at the NATO summit.

Some European members are wary of the US hardline on Beijing and do not want China to be portrayed as an opponent of NATO.

Stoltenberg said last week that “we do not view China as an adversary” but added that Beijing “poses several challenges to our values, our interests, our security”.

Turkey supports membership bids from Sweden and Finland

After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan initially blocked Finland and Sweden’s membership offers, he signed a joint memorandum with Finnish and Swedish leaders on Tuesday “to extend their full support against threats to each other’s security”.

The trilateral agreement “confirms that at this week’s Madrid Summit, Turkey will support Finland’s and Sweden’s invitation to join NATO,” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in a statement.

Erdogan had previously insisted that he would only admit the Nordic pair to NATO if they changed their stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists. In a statement on Tuesday, the Turkish president’s office said Turkey “got what it wanted” from Sweden and Finland.

According to the Turkish Directorate of Communications, the Scandinavians have agreed to take concrete steps to extradite wanted persons and to prevent “terrorist propaganda” against Turkey. Furthermore, Finland and Sweden have decided not to impose embargoes on the Turkish defense industry and to step up cooperation.

‘Wake up, boys’

A Russian missile attack Monday on a shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk was a stark reminder of the horrors of the war, with some seeing the timing of the attack — when G7 leaders met in Germany and just ahead of NATO — as a direct message from Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will address NATO leaders by video on Wednesday, called the raid on the mall a “terrorist” act.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko traveled to Madrid to urge the alliance to provide his country with “whatever it takes” to stop Russia.

‘Wake up, boys. This is happening now. You’re next; this will be knocking on your door instantly,” Klitschko told reporters at the NATO summit location.

Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos marked the summit’s opening by releasing satellite images and coordinates of the Madrid conference room where it is held, along with coordinates for the White House, the Pentagon, and government headquarters in London, Paris, and Berlin.

The Russian space agency said NATO planned to declare Russia an enemy at the summit, adding that it would publish the precise coordinates of the meeting place “just in case”.

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