July 14, 2018

Results of NATO Summit 2018

Development and Maintaining Unity Despite All Problems

 

NATO summits, which as a rule are held once in every two years, are considered to be determiners setting agenda. Such was the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government on July 11–12, 2018, in Brussels, which can be seen as another important step in implementing the Welsh Summit's (September 2014) decisions on the fundamental change of the Alliance's strategy and the actual resuming of the “Cold War” between Russia and the West. The essence of such changes is NATO's returning to the tasks of protecting the member countries from threats from the Eastern, that is, Russian direction. In particular, within the framework of the implementation of these plans, progressive steps are being taken to increase the Alliance's military presence in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics, to develop NATO's infrastructure, and to train troops to reflect Russia's possible attack.

To the point, this was the main theme of the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016, and it was continued at this year's meeting. However, NATO Summit 2018 had its own peculiarity: it took place when (due to D. Trump's protectionist policy) the relationship between the USA and Europe has worsened and the differences in the views on so-called Russian issue between European countries have grown.

The main result of the summit can be considered the demonstration by leaders of NATO member countries of unity of their positions on the main issues related to the strategy and main directions of the Organization's activity. This includes the bedrock commitment to collective defence set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. According to this principle, any attack against one NATO member country is regarded as an attack on the entire Alliance.

It was also declared the NATO members' common attitude to Russia as a country that is professing an aggressive foreign policy, including threats and use of force to achieve its political goals and issuing challenge to the Alliance, and is undermining Euro-Atlantic security and international order.

The meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government on July 11–12, 2018, in Brussels The meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government on July 11–12, 2018, in Brussels
The meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government
on July 11–12, 2018, in Brussels

Against this background, decisions were taken on further steps to strengthen NATO and contain Russia. In particular:

  • To create two new NATO Command structures in Norfolk (Virginia, USA) and Ulm (Germany) to manage redeployment of US troops from the continental United States to Europe and their logistics in case of a military conflict;
  • To launch a NATO Readiness Initiative. By 2020, the Allied forces will have additional 30 major naval combatants, 30 manoeuvre battalions, and 30 air squadrons, with enabling forces, at 30 days’ readiness or less;
  • To strengthen the military presence of the Alliance in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. Thus, ministers of defence from Estonia, Latvia and Denmark signed a joint declaration of intention for the creation of the headquarters for Multinational Division “North”, which will be subordinate to the Multinational Corps “North East”, located in Szczecin, Poland. The Division's Headquarters will have two components and they will be located in Lithuania (operating component) and Denmark (rear component). The Division will consist of four Brigades comprised of the Alliance's multinational battle groups in the Baltic States and Poland. Besides, the plans were specified for the deployment of the Multinational Division “South East” (HQ — Bucharest, Romania).
Decisions were taken on the NATO Summit 2018 on further steps to strengthen the Alliance
Decisions were taken on the NATO Summit 2018 on further steps
to strengthen the Alliance

The summit also confirmed the NATO members' readiness to fulfill the decisions of the Welsh Summit to increase their defence expenditure to 2 % of GDP. To date, this decision has already been fulfilled by eight NATO countries.

Defence expenditure of NATO Countries as a share of GDP (%)
Defence expenditure of NATO Countries as a share of GDP (%)

 

The participants of the summit paid special attention to Ukraine. Thus, the leaders of NATO member states confirmed our country's right to join the North Atlantic Alliance, showed the immutability of their positions in supporting our state in its confrontation with Russia, and also demonstrated the resolve of intentions to further support Ukraine's actions in reforming national security and defense structures within the framework of Comprehensive Assistance Package. (For more details, all these issues are revealed in the “Borysfen Intel” Analytical Centre's weekly publication “European Week of Ukraine”).

 

At the same time, US President D. Trump used the NATO summit as an opportunity for defending American interests with pragmatic realism within the framework of his “America First” Policy. For example, he criticized NATO members for failing to meet their commitments to increase defence expenditures, as well as their financial debts to the Alliance.

In his emotional manner, D. Trump accused the EU countries, including the Federal Republic of Germany, of their supporting the Russian “North Stream 2” project, and spending considerable money on the purchase of Russian gas, in fact supporting Russia's economic strengthening. At this, he criticized Germany for being “fully controlled by Russia”. Quite resonant was also D. Trump's attempt to put pressure on other NATO member states by threatening with the USA's exit from the North Atlantic Alliance.

From the point of view of the United States, such allegations against the European countries are grounded and reflect D. Trump's efforts to achieve a fair distribution of Alliance members' responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security, including in terms of financial expenditures.

Quite objectively, the US President perceives the “North Stream 2” project: the gas pipeline contradicts the EU's energy strategy, giving Russia additional leverage to influence Europe. D. Trump believes that this could benefit only for certain political and business circles of European countries, and nobody else.

However, D. Trump's position and the form of its delivery indeed complicate the relations between the United States and European countries. Especially because the USA is interested in blocking the “North Stream 2” project, which will create competition with American plans to enter the European gas market.

Nevertheless, the above-mentioned problems do not worsen the relationship within Alliance, as shown by the results of the NATO Summit in general, and of D. Trump's meeting with and the Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel, in particular.

 

Russia's response to the decisions of the NATO Summit was fully predicted and absolutely negative. It has already perceived them as “a threat to its security” and “the North Atlantic Alliance's next step to destabilize the situation in the world”. And in return, the RF has conducted a series of demonstrations of power, indicating that it understands the real processes for strengthening NATO, which should be taken seriously.

In particular, on July 12, 2018, at the training field near the city of Ryazan, was conducted an active phase of tactical regimental training of the 217th Airborne Regiment (Ivanovo) from the 98th Airborne Division of the RF Armed Forces. For the first time in the history of the new Russia, more than 1,500 servicemen and more than 50 pieces of military equipment were air landed massively. Part of the crews during the landing was inside the BMD-4M and BTR-MDM combat vehicles. To transport the troops and equipment over 1 thousand kilometres to the training field, were used three regiments of the Army Transport Aviation, equipped with An-124 (“Ruslan”), An-22 (“Antey”), Il-76 and An-26, which were escorted by MiG-31BM interceptor fighters and Su-27 fighters (about 70 aircraft were involved in general). According to Russian media, the training was authorized personally by the RF President V. Putin.

Tactical regimental training of the Airborne Troops of the RF Armed Forces near the city of Ryazan Tactical regimental training of the Airborne Troops of the RF Armed Forces near the city of Ryazan Tactical regimental training of the Airborne Troops of the RF Armed Forces near the city of Ryazan
Tactical regimental training of the Airborne Troops of the RF Armed Forces near the city of Ryazan

At the same time, Russian media do not stop an active information campaign by imposing on the public the idea of a “deep split between the United States and NATO”, “the Alliance's approach to collapse,” and even about “D. Trump and V. Putin's agreement on the dividing of the world”. Unfortunately, such assessments are being picked up by individual Ukrainian politicians and “experts” who try to diminish NATO's role and importance as a global force in the world, as well as to compromise Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic prospects.