It was promised to be transformative and historic, and it delivered. Although it took a war, NATO was able to bring about the most significant changes in decades.
The brazen, unprovoked attack against Ukraine has jolted the alliance into a carefully stage-managed summit.
At the last , the spectre of a divided summit was put to rest by Turkish objections to Sweden’s and Finland’s joining.
It’s not yet clear what price was paid by the Turks to be persuaded, especially by west’s Kurdish allies in the fight against Islamic State. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, seems especially pleased with the outcome.
NATO updated its Strategic Concept. This 16-page mission statement was last revised in 2010, when it didn’t mention China but referred to Russia and China as strategic partners. The world has changed dramatically in the past decade.
While the much-hyped plans to increase NATO’s Rapid Response Force from 40,000 up to 300,000. seem lofty at the moment, they will improve NATO’s ability in emergencies to respond quickly.
Thousands of extra troops will also be deployed to eastern Europe. For example, Britain claims that 1,000 additional troops will be deployed to Estonia to defend it. However, they will remain based in the UK and ready to deploy if needed.
Leaders have made the argument that Vladimir Putin is getting precisely what he doesn’t want. According to his diplomats, the Russian president is fighting war partly to stop NATO expansion. It is the opposite.
His worst fears are now being realized. A NATO expanded with new members, more troops and material at his borders.
These changes will only increase Russia’s historical insecurity over an exposed western flank, which has been repeatedly invaded by Napoleon to Hitler.
Russia’s leader is only to blame. His aggression has alarmed two countries that have a long history of neutrality and are now running to NATO. The Baltic countries have viewed the fate of Ukraine and called for stronger NATO defenses.
NATO leaders have been giving Putin the benefit-of-the doubt for years and now believe that strength and resolve will be the best means of controlling a belligerent Russia.
While NATO’s new stance is necessary, it will not make the current dangerous situation any safer. Europe is witnessing a new iron curtain. The gap between the democratic and autocratic wests is widening.
His advisers have been telling him for years that NATO is a growing threat to Russia and they are out to get him. This will not ease his paranoia.
Britain claims that the next phase of the conflict is underway. Ukraine will be assisted to shift from a defensive to an offensive posture. Ukraine’s military must transform and acquire more weapons in order to drive Russia out. This will require a long-term commitment from allies.
Putin could become more dangerous the more successful they are. Dictators can’t afford to lose.