For the first time, US President Joe Biden will meet in person with his counterparts from the intergovernmental military alliance. Part of the objective of the summit is to think about the strategy of the Atlantic Alliance for the next decade, as well as to debate two major issues: its position vis-à-vis Russia and China, and what could be the environmental goals for the armies.
With Joe Biden as president of the United States, the 30 NATO countries will discuss on Monday, June 14, how to renew the bloc and improve relations between Europe and North America, weakened in the mandate of Donald Trump.
The former president was a constant critic of the intergovernmental body and even in 2018 threatened to withdraw his country from the alliance, formed in 1949 to contain the Soviet military conflict.
In this sense, Biden has promised that his country is back. And with this, NATO aspires to increase the joint financing of military operations. “We have to invest even more, invest together and meet our high level of ambition. Common funding is a force multiplier and an effective way to invest,” said Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, at a press conference prior to the top.
In addition to financing, the so-called NATO 2030 will discuss transnational threats such as terrorism – on the rise in Africa -, cyber attacks and the security implications of climate change. There will also be discussed the “aggressive policies and actions of Russia” and “the challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China” to the security of the countries of the organization, according to a statement from the White House.
All of these issues will be on the path that will guide the operations of the Atlantic Alliance for the next decade. And it is that the intention of the member countries is that in Monday’s meeting the foundations of the “new Strategic Concept” are laid, which will serve as a draft for the final document that is expected to be adopted at the NATO Summit in 2022.
Cyber defense will be a vital issue, just now that the United States suffered a hack that blocked the Colonial Pipeline, the largest oil pipeline system in the country. According to the FBI, the perpetrators are alleged Russian-speaking hackers, who call themselves DarkSide.
In this regard, Stoltenberg commented that a new policy has been planned to be approved, although he did not give many details about it. He only indicated that they will send “a clear message at the summit that NATO is determined to defend itself in cyberspace just as effectively.”
Reduce carbon emissions from armies and withdraw troops from Afghanistan
One of the peculiarities of this summit is that, for the first time, the military alliance will discuss what climate actions to take. The information available so far is that member countries intend for their armed forces to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. That is, they do not emit more carbon dioxide than the planet can process.
Such a plan would align the organization with the goal outlined in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Also on the table is the debate of how to make the armed forces adapt to the threats posed by global warming.
Another issue will be the withdrawal of military troops from Afghanistan. On previous occasions, Biden had already promised the departure of all uniformed Americans from the Middle Eastern country by September 11 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers.
This time, the White House emphasized that he is leaving with his military, but will continue in the country. “As NATO reduces its military presence in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years, the United States and our NATO allies and partners will continue to support the people of Afghanistan through civilian and security assistance,” the White House said.
How the international community continues to operate is still a heated debate. Turkey, a member of NATO, has offered to operate at the Kabul airport and thus ensure access to the country, after the military withdrawal. But the Taliban disagree, believing that it is against sovereignty for Turkey to stay.
Russia and China in NATO’s crosshairs
Although these two powers are not part of the Atlantic Alliance, they will undoubtedly be two of the main protagonists, since the member countries will monitor security actions.
Russia has been branded by the bloc as having “aggressive” behavior towards Ukraine and as “rejecting a rules-based international order.” Biden, for example, has promised to investigate whether or not the Kremlin intervened in the US elections.
However, the president clarified that there are issues on which they seek to work shoulder to shoulder with Russia. “With Putin we have discussed working together for the climate,” Biden said during the G7 press conference. The United States also hopes that Russia will cooperate to open roads and strengthen assistance to needy populations in Libya, in addition to continuing its reconstruction efforts in Syria.
Although, in parallel, Biden warned that “there are no guarantees” that NATO or he or anyone will change Putin’s behavior. “Autocrats have a lot of power, they don’t have to answer to the public,” he added.
The two leaders will meet in Geneva on Wednesday June 16, after the NATO meeting. In this regard, Stoltenberg commented that he hopes that the meeting between the two will serve to negotiate arms control with Moscow. However, on this he did not seem very optimistic since, in his opinion, the ties between NATO and Russia are at the “lowest point since the Cold War”.
“There is more work we have to do for arms control and this includes short and medium-range weapons systems,” said the president of the security agency.
For its part, China barely entered NATO’s agenda at the 2019 London summit when the bloc celebrated its 70th anniversary. But this time the 30 countries grouped in the Brussels meeting want the Asian nation to be asked to participate in a future pact on arms control.
“China is increasingly a global power. With it goes a global responsibility,” added the head of the alliance.
Turkey would seek to improve its relationship with the United States
The tension is not only with the countries that are not part of NATO. There is friction within the members themselves and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to talk about his differences with the United States.
The relationship is not going through its best moment, after Biden acknowledged that the massacres committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians were a genocide and after Turkey eliminated a program of F-35 fighters that Washington sold him.
But now the leaders of both countries will meet for the first time in person and Erdogan wants to take advantage of that moment to smooth things over. “There was a lot of internal and external gossip, so we must talk about how we can leave these problems behind, what we can do and what we will do. Turkey is not just any country, it is an allied country,” Erdogan told reporters at the airport in Istanbul, heading to Brussels.
The president also urged his US counterpart to turn the page on the problems of the past, referring among them to the disagreement over the purchase of Russian S-400 missiles that Turkey made in 2019 and that the United States rejected.
The summit will have an official opening ceremony led by the secretary general to welcome the members. Each leader is expected to make a statement after the meeting, in addition to separate press conferences.
With EFE and Reuters