Monday, January 30

NATO addresses Russian pressure in the East and the Balkans and the Chinese challenge


The Alliance ministers will discuss security in the skies next week in Bucharest and how to avoid repeating dependence on authoritarian regimes with Beijing

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.AFP
  • Conflict From Madrid to Madrid (1997-2022): the impact of the war on the NATO summit

Russia It is the adversary, the clearest enemy and the main risk for Defense and collective security, but only in the short and medium term. In the background rival, in the long term and with much greater implications, it is China. That is how the United States sees it without a doubt and that is how more and more members of NATO are beginning to assume it. It is clear in the working documents, the informal talks, the strategies and even in the Strategic Concept that was approved last July in Madrid. There are still more good words than bad, as time goes by the interests of both blocks become more distant and contrary.

Next week, the foreign ministers of the Atlantic Alliance will meet in Bucharest to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the military campaign, aid to kyiv and Russian violence. “President Putin is failing in Ukraine and is responding with more brutality. Waves of deliberate missile attacks on cities and civilian infrastructure to deprive Ukrainians of heat, light and food. We are all paying a price for Russia’s war, but the price we pay is in money, while the price Ukrainians pay is in blood. putin win, we will all pay a much higher price for many years to come,” the Alliance secretary general recalled this Friday.

The ministers will reiterate their commitment and reach out to Georgia, Bosnia and Moldova, which has a border with Romania. called passes partners at risk and that, according to stoltenberg“They are coping with Russian pressure in many different ways. We will take additional measures to help them protect their independence and strengthen their ability to defend themselves,” the Norwegian said.

But there are two issues, one on the agenda and the other inevitable, that attract attention. The first, the safety of the European skies. The missile that killed two Polish citizens near the Ukrainian border is very worrying. Germany has offered to send Patriot missile batteries to Poland precisely to intercept possible threats. Everyone knows that it is impossible to eliminate the risk, and although the Alliance military command believes that existing resources are sufficientthat it is not necessary to increase the capacities, the partners of the Eastern flank press for more deployments.

Concern for China

The second question is that of China. It is on the table, since a report must be approved, the first since the Strategic Concept, the road map of the Alliance for the next decade. “We will also address ways to strengthen our resilience and the challenges posed by China. China is not an adversary, but it is stepping up its military modernization and increasing its presence from the Arctic to the Western Balkans, from space to cyberspace. China is also seeking to control the critical infrastructure of NATO allies. The war in Ukraine has shown how dangerous our dependence on Russian gas is. Therefore, we must evaluate our dependencies on other authoritarian regimes, including China,” Stoltenberg said in his traditional appearance prior to the ministerial meetings.

In the Strategic Concept, NATO positioned itself on China as never before. In London, in 2019, he appeared for the first time in his statements, and in Madrid he held a prominent place. “China is not an adversary,” reiterated the Norwegian, but it is betting on important advanced weapons systems, long-range missiles, new nuclear weapons. “We see how China and Russia are working ever closer. We see how China tries to control critical infrastructure in Europe, such as 5G networks. And we also see how China does not share our values, violating human rights, suppressing democratic protest, journalists,” he reiterated.

There is still no clear plan. Disengaging is impossible, but you need a balanced, healthy relationship. “It’s about resilience. It’s about learning from what we’ve seen after the Ukraine war, or Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the way Russia has used our dependence on gas. And based on that, we must also assess excessive dependencies or dependencies on the commodities of other authoritarian regimes. And that includes China, for example, rare earth minerals, supply chains and other aspects where there are potential vulnerabilities for NATO allies,” Stoltenberg warned.

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