What to expect from NATO's Madrid summit

Ukraine-Russia war, Finland, Sweden membership bids, new strategic concept on agenda.

What to expect from NATO's Madrid summit

Leaders of NATO's member countries and key partners are set to meet in Madrid to discuss issues facing the alliance during a three-day summit beginning on Tuesday.

Russia's war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe as it caused far-reaching energy and food crises by shaking the rules of the international order since it began on Feb. 24.

As NATO became a more indispensable platform for transatlantic cooperation on security and defense, allies will continue to make decisions to keep the alliance ready against any threat at the summit.

Strengthening NATO's long-term deterrence and defense, sustaining support for Ukraine, launching NATO's 2022 Strategic Concept, reinforcing partnerships and maintaining an open door, adapting to threats and challenges from any direction, and transatlantic unity and alliance solidarity will be on the agenda for the member states to discuss.

Some "important" topics to be discussed by members and partners include how has Russia's military operation in Ukraine and the new security reality in Europe affected the alliance's approach to deterrence and defense; what is NATO doing to address challenges like China's growing influence or security consequences of climate change and what to include in the next Strategic Concept.

To protect and defend allied territory amid the current security reality, NATO has more than 40,000 troops under direct command, backed by air and naval assets.

The alliance also doubled the number of battlegroups to eight, extending from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south.

NATO leaders will "significantly strengthen the Alliance's posture for the long term, with more presence, capabilities and readiness," according to the alliance, which will require adequate resources and continued investment in defense.

Support for Ukraine

Noting that allies "significantly stepped up with billions of euros' worth" of additional lethal and non-lethal aid to help Ukraine after Russia launched its war in February, NATO said it builds on the years of NATO training and assistance since Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Leaders of member countries will meet with Ukraine to agree to step up and sustain support for the "longer-term" at the summit.

2022 Strategic Concept

Serving as a blueprint for future adaption, strategic concepts give the alliance the ability to respond to current security challenges and guide political and military developments for the challenges of tomorrow.

In Madrid, leaders will endorse a 2022 Strategic Concept, which will set out NATO's joint positions, including on Russia and emerging challenges, and will address China for the first time.

"The Madrid Strategic Concept will reflect the new security environment, recommit to our values, and reaffirm our unity, ensuring that our Alliance is fit for the future," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said of the new concept.

The concept has been reviewed and updated approximately every 10 years since the end of the Cold War. The last one was adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2010.

Reinforcing partnerships, maintaining an open door

Finland and Sweden's NATO bids will belong to the main agenda points of the summit as part of the alliance's Open Door policy.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join the alliance last month, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine.

But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

Stoltenberg has constantly said that Türkiye has "legitimate concerns related to their fight against the PKK a group and other organizations," and that the PKK is considered a terror organization by NATO, the EU, Finland, and Sweden.

However, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares recently said the host country hopes to sign with Finland and Sweden at the summit as parties could get closer in talks during the one-week window.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people.

NATO will step up support to Georgia and other partners to build their capabilities and strengthen their resilience during the summit.

The leaders of four Asia-Pacific partners -- Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand will be part of a NATO summit for the first time.

Adapting to threats, challenges

Member countries are set to make decisions to maintain NATO's technological edge, "including through the new Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic and a billion euro Innovation Fund, to support start-ups and develop cutting-edge solutions to security challenges," according to the alliance.

Terrorism, cyberattacks, China's "coercive" policies, disruptive technologies and the security impact of climate change are among the topics that the alliance will focus under threats and challenges title.

Regarding climate change, leaders will agree on a new methodology to map military greenhouse gas emissions and a target to help NATO contribute to the goal of net-zero emissions.

As NATO faces "the most serious security situation in decades," the decisions leaders make in Madrid will ensure that NATO continues to preserve "peace, prevent conflict and protect our people and our values," according to the alliance.

The summit has special importance for Spain as the country is hosting on the 40th anniversary of Madrid's accession to NATO.

Hüseyin Demir

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