Now Is The Time To Address Structure, Strategic Vision Of NATO, European Union
Michal Baranowski, director of the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, advocates overhauling the structure of NATO to reflect the current geopolitical realities, rather than the old.
The “new” NATO is warranted, in particular, after Russia has shown its disdain for existing treaties and a penchant for aggressive behavior, as well as the fact that NATO currently is not capable of responding to emerging security threats.
In practice, he says, this would “would mean permanently stationing NATO assets, including troops and bases, where the threat is most acute in northeastern Europe. Such a presence on Europe’s eastern periphery would not only enable an effective defense in case of an attack, but would serve as clear sign of the Alliance’s resolve in deterring any potential aggression. Over time, this would also help lead to the de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. Russia is more likely to respond to a show of strength rather than to weakness.”
If such a dramatic realignment is not pursued, the alternative would be to focus on ways to improve the Alliance’s readiness and enhance its ability to mobilize quickly.
Tate Nurkin of Jane’s Defence, is another voice advocating for change as NATO finds itself at a critical juncture as more threats are emerging in real time and as the organization finds itself in desperate need of a long-term strategy.
Nurkin says the Ukrainian crisis has “increased unease in non-member states in eastern and southern Europe and raised questions about the alliance’s future membership and structure,” which, he says, will not be solved at the conference.
However, he argues, it is critical they are addressed. While new concerns about cyberterrorism, Russian aggression, and the potential for spillover from the conflicts in the Middle East increase, defense spending by many NATO members is on the decline.
According to IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets, 13 of the top 20 most rapidly declining defense budgets from 2012 to 2014 are NATO members or partners. Russia is increasing its spending.
“This new environment will require the alliance to make important decisions to address the current Eastern European exigency. However, taking these decisions absent a longer view and consideration of critical uncertainties shaping future trans-Atlantic security, risks an alliance that is overextended, fragmented or retrenched and, more fundamentally, a future in which this resilient alliance is not optimized to shape a stable and secure Europe in an increasingly anxious age,” Nurkin contends.
It is the willingness of European leaders, including the European Union, that also is cause for great concern, particularly among the leaders of the former Soviet satellites.
After several series of sanctions, Russia has demonstrated no desire or intent to scale back its encroachment on the territories of the former Eastern bloc.
One of those raising concerns is Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who is calling on the European Union to get serious about the gravity of the situation.
“Russia is in a state of war against Ukraine and that is against a country which wants to be part of Europe. Russia is practically in a state of war against Europe,” she said, according to The Telegraph.
It is a warning echoed by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, who has cautioned the EU against standing by while his country becomes “subject to foreign military aggression and terror” from Russia.
“Today we are talking about the fate of Ukraine, but tomorrow it could be the fate of security and stability of all of Europe,” he said.