By Wilson Daily/JBANC —
On June 14, the heads of state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) thirty member states met in Brussels to assess the transatlantic security environment. With a recent rise in tensions between the Alliance and Russia, the meeting presented an opportunity to reaffirm and expand upon existing strategies and measures to defend its member states.
Following the conclusion of the Summit, NATO released a joint statement outlining its commitments to preserving and improving the Alliance’s security capabilities. While it touched on numerous issues, the joint statement heavily featured NATO’s policies toward Russia and China. The former’s continuing aggressive behavior in Ukraine, military buildup, and efforts to undermine members’ democratic processes were highlighted among the Alliance’s major security concerns. Emphasizing the organization’s preparedness to defend the bloc’s eastern border, the joint statement noted:
“We will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by enhancing our deterrence and defence posture, including a forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.” (1)
To that end, the member states committed to improving the capabilities of the Integrated Air and Missile Defence program, which serves as a first line of defense against airborne threats. Through the NATO Readiness Initiative, a force of thirty battalions, thirty air squadrons, and thirty naval vessels stands ready to respond to military crises in thirty days or less. Although the Very High Joint Readiness Task Force remains the most immediate sector of the Alliance’s response force, the Readiness Initiative further ensures NATO’s ability to mobilize defense forces in a timely manner. Meanwhile, as part of the Enhanced Forward Presence on the eastern border, the Alliance committed to improving the “ability of the four combat-ready battlegroups” in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland “to operate with national home defense forces in an integrated manner.” (2)
The joint statement also offered strong rebukes for Russia’s territorial claims and destabilization efforts in Ukraine and Georgia, calling for Russia to end its backing of rebel groups in eastern Ukraine and the militarization of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. Russia’s increasingly hostile activity in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, particularly the restriction of access to foreign commercial and military vessels and frequent provocation attempts, also drew condemnation from the member states. Additionally, the member states remained united in their refusal to recognize Russia’s claims to the Crimean Peninsula.
The 2021 NATO Summit did not produce any major shifts in policy, but it did affirm the member states’ dedication to deterring attacks on the bloc’s eastern border. As long as Russia poses a threat to the security and wellbeing of any member, NATO will remain prepared to defend it.
(1) North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “Brussels Summit Communiqué.” 2021. Press Release (2021) 086; section 9.
(2) North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “Brussels Summit Communiqué.” 2021. Press Release (2021) 086; section 34.
PHOTO: Official Portrait of NATO Allies (NATO)