The new strategic concept will highlight Russia as “the pre-eminent challenge”, the US envoy to the alliance said.
NATO’s new strategic concept will describe Russia as the “main threatto the bloc, while China will make its first appearance in the document, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Julianne Smith said Wednesday.
Speaking at a Defense Writers Group event, Smith said that even before the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine on February 24, “There was a deep appreciation across the alliance that the Russia 2010 language was sorely outdated and in need of a significant update.”
NATO’s current strategic concept was released in 2010, four years before Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia after the 2014 coup in kyiv. The 35-page document says that “NATO-Russia cooperation is of strategic importance as it contributes to creating a common area of peace, stability and security.“The alliance also states that it is seeking a”true strategic partnershipwith Russia and therefore aims tostrengthen political consultations and practical cooperationwith Moscow.
“We largely agree that Russia is the pre-eminent challenge, the primary threat facing the NATO alliance right now, and because of that, you’ll see a strong focus on Russia from the start at the top.“Smith said.
She also revealed that the members of the alliance agree that “China, for the first time, was to be part of the strategic concept.In June last year, NATO heads of state and government included a paragraph in the Brussels summit communiqué that read:China’s growing influence and its international policies may present challenges that we must address together as an Alliance.”
The new strategic concept is expected to be unveiled at the NATO summit on June 29-30 in Madrid. Smith said the document is meant to last 10 years.
Besides the strategic concept, NATO leaders are likely to issue a separate statement on the Russian operation in Ukraine and its implications for global security, she added.
Over the years, Russia has warned against NATO’s eastward expansion, viewing it as a direct threat to national security. The possibility of Ukraine joining the alliance in the future has been cited by Moscow as one of the reasons for the ongoing military offensive in the country.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the republics from the Donbass of Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to give breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.