The crisis in and around Ukraine has changed the security environment in Europe. Moreover, the security situation to the south of the North Atlantic Alliance is marked by instability and protracted conflicts in Iraq and Syria. This also affects NATO. Its response to these challenges rests on a very solid foundation: The Strategic Concept assigns the three core tasks to NATO – collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. The Strategic Concept remains valid and continues to reliably guide NATO’s actions.
On this basis, the Alliance must, as it has often done in the past, adapt its instruments, policies, and activities to meet current requirements. The NATO Summit in Warsaw on 8 and 9 July 2016 focused on addressing the new security policy challenges to the East and to the South.
- In Warsaw, the RAP measures were declared fully implemented; they had been agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit with a view to reassuring particularly vulnerable eastern Allies. The additional adaptation measures adopted in Warsaw are intended to ensure credible deterrence. These include establishment, on a rotational basis, of a battalion-sized force contingent in each of the three Baltic states, as well as in Poland. Germany will assume the lead role for the battalion in Lithuania, to which other Allies will also be making contributions. The United Kingdom will take on this role in Estonia, Canada in Latvia, and the United States in Poland. These measures are in accordance with the NATO-Russia Founding Act.
- Practical cooperation with Russia remains suspended. The Alliance does, however, remain committed to engaging with Russia within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council. The intention is to hold more meetings in the future, and thereby use this important forum as a channel for political communication. It most recently met in April and July 2016, and additional meetings are envisioned.
- NATO will intensify its cooperation with partners to the east of the Alliance, such as Ukraine and Georgia, through its existing partnership framework, as well as provide additional support by means of tailored cooperation programmes.
- The Warsaw Summit also focused on security policy challenges in NATO’s southern neighbourhood. For example, NATO will be providing specialised assistance to its partner country Iraq. Some of these measures will take place in Iraq itself, such as counter-IED training. The Alliance also pledged to continue providing support to Afghanistan beyond 2016, within the context of the Resolute Support Mission. Without itself becoming a member of the Counter-ISIL Coalition, NATO is in principle prepared to make available its AWACS reconnaissance aircraft, which can provide situational awareness from Turkish and international airspace.
In the margins of the Warsaw Summit, Secretary General Stoltenberg, European Council President Juncker and European Commission President Tusk signed a joint NATO-EU declaration. It aims to expand cooperation between the two organisations in areas where the only way to effectively tackle challenges is through joint action, for example on hybrid threats and cyber security, as well as by conducting an exchange on how to stabilise countries in their neighbourhood.
For NATO, the decisions taken at Warsaw on the one hand help further strengthen the Alliance’s collective defence capabilities. On the other hand, NATO must continue to work towards a constructive and cooperative relationship with Russia, also by seeking to engage in dialogue through the NATO-Russia Council – because long-term peace in Europe can only be achieved together with Russia.