More than forty world leaders met this week in Madrid, where the NATO summit was held between June 28 and 30.
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Spain, which celebrates forty years as a member of the Alliance, welcomed the thirty partner countries, other guests from Asia-Pacific, four additional members of the European Union but not of NATO and the heads of the European Commission and the Council European.
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Manuel Muniz, International Rector of IE University and Dean of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs, spoke to EL TIEMPO in Madrid about the meeting.
What was the importance of this summit?
I highlight three key issues. The first is the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has taken up much of the agenda. Relevant decisions are being made in this area: the first is to continue coordinating response measures such as sending military, humanitarian and financial aid; the second is the entry of Sweden and Finland into the Alliance, which represents a very important shift in security policy because it extends the border that NATO is going to have with Russia by a considerable distance (only Finland’s membership adds some 1,300 kilometers of border between what is going to be NATO and Russia); and another vital issue is the new projection of Alliance military forces in Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries, which will be increased with a more permanent presence and with a larger volume of forces with early response capacity than there was.
All this draws a very different geopolitical scenario. It is the most transcendental turn for the Alliance since the end of the Cold War because it positions it in Eastern Europe in a much more marked way in an operation to contain Russia and provide security for the allies in the area.
The second major milestone of the summit is the approval of the new strategic concept. We have been with one for more than a decade that had not been updated and now addresses issues such as Russia, the relationship with China and what hybrid threats are.
The third issue was the presence of the Asia-Pacific partners. The prime ministers of New Zealand, Korea, Japan, Australia have been. The issue of China and the Indo-Pacific has been brought into the debate more clearly, and a common NATO approach to security issues in Asia has been put forward.
So it is a really historic and very important summit for NATO.
Can it be assured that we are facing a new world order, before a new era?
Everything seems to indicate that it is so. Definitely what this marks is a new era in relations between Russia and the West. The invasion of Ukraine is going to have systemic consequences on the commercial and economic relationship with Russia, which has been totally severed by the invasion. It is very difficult to imagine a normalization of the diplomatic relationship with Russia, even if a ceasefire or some kind of agreement were reached, because so many brutalities have already taken place.
In the previous strategic concept of NATO it was said that Europe did not face conventional threats on its territory, but now we Europeans are exposed to a new one with the invasion. In the current strategic concept, this changes and Russia is designated as the main adversary of the Alliance. We are entering a new stage and it is an era much more marked by the threat, its containment and deterrence with the positioning of forces.
There is an additional key issue in the configuration of a new world order, which is the positioning of China, which has played an ambiguous role of tacit support for Russia. Therefore, a bloc of authoritarian regimes and a bloc of liberal democracies in the world begin to configure. Everything will depend on how China behaves in the coming months, but it seems that we are moving towards a more fractured world, of large blocks configured based on the political nature of their members.
Regarding this alliance of China and Russia, have you thought of any concrete steps?
In the strategic concept that has just been approved, China is spoken of as an adversary, not as an enemy or as a direct threat, but as a security challenge for the Alliance. For this reason, a series of questions are raised to keep on the radar, which start from being aware that this is a possibility.
There are individual countries that are already taking relevant measures. Alliance members and others from the Indo-Pacific have restricted the access of Chinese companies to strategic sectors of the economy (especially 5G telecommunications), others have implemented regulatory frameworks to control interference in domestic politics by Chinese actors. The United States has taken strict measures in the commercial field: it has implemented tariffs and has a list of Chinese companies that are not allowed to operate in its market.
This new international order that seems to be emerging is undesirable. It is more insecure, with more threats, where we are going to have to make greater investments in security and defense and that is going to imply less investment in other matters. It is a new international order that is also less economically integrated, where we are going to have to recalibrate our supply chains, our economic dependence on certain countries, as has happened to us with Russia. By the way, with Russia after the invasion we have broken our economic integration with that country. Our companies have had to leave and we are dismantling energy interdependence. This new order has costs for our citizens and public budgets. It is a less desirable environment than the previous one, but it is the reality to which we are heading.
In relation to Russia, have other concrete measures been proposed, such as a negotiation or a different way of dealing with the invasion of Ukraine?
At this time no one is considering a negotiation, especially if it does not take place with the will of the Ukrainian government, whose main concern at the moment is to defend itself. A deep dialogue with possible results is far away. We are in a war that is going to be prolonged and that the Ukrainian military forces are managing to resist, especially in the east and southeast. They were already successful in their resistance to a campaign that sought to occupy practically the entire country, overthrow the government, take kyiv… Those Russian objectives were no longer achieved. We are now in a much more eroding campaign in the east, but there are no big Russian advances taking place. It is a war of attrition and diplomatically we are far from that dialogue because the parties do not want to carry it out.
The possibility of an agreement involving the surrender of territories by Ukraine is being considered. For example, Crimea and Donbas in exchange for peace. That would be a harmful result because it would suppose the recognition of the occupation and theft of a territory of a third country through a flagrant aggression and contrary to international law. If history has taught us anything, it is that this type of aggression cannot go unpunished, it has to carry a cost and cannot be legitimized afterwards.
You mentioned hybrid threats earlier. What are they and what do they imply?
They are threats that do not cross the threshold of a traditional military aggression. There are no official or formal armed forces involved in these types of attacks, but they cause damage to the strategic interests of a third country. It can be done by using, for example, militias or informal forces that create instability. They are also those that are deployed in cyber space, destabilize the infrastructure and damage the productive fabric of a third country.
All of these are positioned on a spectrum that is still difficult for us to qualify as an attack, and yet they have all the consequences. Another type that has been included in the strategic concept is the use of migratory movements as a weapon of aggression against a third State in such a way that they produce border control or encourage certain vulnerable groups to cross a border illegally, in order to produce pressure on a third state.
How do you see the position of Colombia as the only global partner of Latin America in NATO?
In a reflection on the continent, I must say that Latin America from the point of view of institutions, political culture and values is part of the West and the Atlantic world. Spain has been a great supporter of this idea, which incorporates the South Atlantic, the Caribbean. There is a more Anglo-Saxon view that defends that the Atlantic practically ends in Florida. Spain has historically defended that there is an Ibero-American reality and a South Atlantic reality. The question is: where does Latin America position itself in this new international order? For Spain, the answer is obvious: Latin America is part of the West and has always been part of it. The case of Colombia is emblematic because it is a great anchor, a great partner of the Atlantic Alliance and highlights the reality that there are countries in Latin America that are already part of that security architecture against openly authoritarian regimes.
What other challenges apart from what you have mentioned were established at the NATO summit?
There is an entire section dedicated to the strategic concept regarding emerging technologies. I am referring above all to artificial intelligence, quantum computing, satellite technology and autonomous weapons technology (such as drones). There are a number of new capabilities, offensive and defensive. I think it is a particularly relevant chapter in which we are going to have to work a lot. We must study the impact of these technologies on our security. This is going to change the world. For example, when quantum computing is fully deployed, it will dismantle the resilience of encryption systems. As a big subject I see that it is this: understand and govern the implications of technological transformation for our security and defense. It is the great theme for the future.
JUANITA SAMPER OSPINA
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