On Monday Jun 14th, NATO leaders vowed to work together against the ‘systemic challenge’ posed by China’s aggressive policies. Also, they vowed to give Russia notice about its breaking of international law.
NATO in short stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It was formed in 1949 and now has an alliance of 29 fellow nations. The main intention for NATO’s formation was to have collective security against the former Soviet Union. Russia as a country by itself, is still seen as a threat to NATO members.
NATO leaders issued a broad statement of intent during the NATO Summit on Jun 14th. The summit is being held at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Also attending the summit for the first time is US President Joe Biden. The US President took the opportunity to renew Washington’s Transatlantic ties with the Western allies.
China’s threats to NATO
In their joint-statement, NATO leaders said that the international order is threatened. This is due to China’s increasingly assertive actions in building a nuclear arsenal. Also, China is advancing along with space and cyber warfare capabilities.
On global issues like climate change, the allies would seek to cooperate with China according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. This is what the European capitals are seeking on common ground.
The US President is picking up from where his predecessor left off on China. He is getting NATO to pay attention and take a stronger stance on China.
China’s growing influence and international policies present challenges to Alliance security, as warned by Stoltenberg in support of Washington’s growing concern.
“Leaders agreed that we need to address such challenges together as an alliance, and that we need to engage with China to defend our security interests.”
Citing Beijing’s expanding nuclear arsenal, Stoltenberg said “We are concerned by China’s coercive policies.“
Russia can’t expect business as usual
Also, the summit leaders warned Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that there will be no quick return to “business as usual”. The Russian President will meet with Biden on Wednesday, Jun 16th, in Geneva.
On NATO’s eastern frontier, Russia’s military build-up and provocative behaviour contribute to instability along NATO borders and beyond. Similarly, the strong Russian military presence also increasingly threatens the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.
The alliance reiterates its support for the territorial integrity of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. As such, they are demanding Moscow withdraw the forces stationed in all three countries without their consent.
Biden’s strong commitment to NATO received praise from Stoltenberg. It is an implicit contrast to the difficult ties under Biden’s predecessor, former president, Donald Trump.
Arriving at NATO headquarters ahead of the leaders, Stoltenberg told reporters, “We’re not entering a new Cold War and China is not our adversary, not our enemy.”
President Biden’s arrival at NATO headquarters followed Stoltenberg’s arrival. Biden said to waiting reporters that the alliance is “critically important” to US security
At bilateral talks just before the main summit, Biden told Stoltenberg “I think that there is a growing recognition over the last couple of years that we have new challenges.“
Biden said “We have Russia that is not acting in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped, as well as China.“
Biden adds “I want to make it clear: NATO is critically important for US interests in and of itself. If there weren’t one, we’d have to invent it.”
Article 5 of the NATO treaty states the obligation of members to defend one another. Again, President Biden stressed on this point. It is in contrast to Trump who called it into question. Biden referred to Article 5 as a “sacred obligation” to him.
President Biden surprised the Alliance leaders recently. He is ordering US troops on assignment in Afghanistan to return home by Sep 11th. This has led to NATO leaders also scrambling to hastily withdraw their troops as well.
The rush to pull out all Alliance troops from Afghanistan has raised concerns from other allies.
15th June 2021 23:00
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