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Sansad TV: Perspective- NATO’s Expansion

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Introduction:

After weeks of debate and deliberations, Finland and Sweden formally applied for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, this week. Official applications were handed over by their ambassadors to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who hailed it as a historic moment. U.S. President Joe Biden called Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO a ‘watershed moment in European security’. In a meeting with the Prime Minister of Sweden & the President of Finland on Thursday, Joe Biden said, having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of the alliance. Surprisingly, the Nordic nations’ bid to join NATO faces stiff opposition, not from Russia, but one of the alliance members, Turkey. Without the support of all NATO members, Sweden & Finland cannot join the military alliance.

  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries.
  • The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
  • NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
  • NATO’s Headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium
  • Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was North Macedonia on 27 March 2020. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members. An additional 20 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs.
  • The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.
  • Members agreed that their aim is to reach or maintain the target defense spending of at least 2% of GDP by 2024
  • NATO membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”
  • NATO also has what it calls the Membership Action Plan. It helps aspiring members prepare for membership and meet key requirements by providing practical advice and targeted assistance.

A political and military Alliance:

Security in our daily lives is key to our well-being. NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.

  • Political – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
  • Military – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.

Russia’s dispute with NATO:

  • Russian leaders have long been wary of the eastward expansion of NATO, particularly as the alliance opened its doors to former Warsaw Pact states and ex-Soviet republics in the late 1990s (the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) and early 2000s (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia).
  • Their fears grew in the late 2000s as the alliance stated its intent to admit Georgia and Ukraine at an unspecified point in the future.

Decisions:

  • Every day, member countries consult and take decisions on security issues at all levels and in a variety of fields.
  • A “NATO decision” is the expression of the collective will of all 30 member countries since all decisions are taken by consensus.
  • Hundreds of officials, as well as civilian and military experts, come to NATO Headquarters each day to exchange information, share ideas and help prepare decisions when needed, in cooperation with national delegations and the staff at NATO Headquarters

Challenges for NATO:

  • Maintaining a united stance on the INF.
  • Managing NATO’s role in the Western Balkans.
  • Navigating political tensions in NATO operations.
  • Balancing European ambitions for strategic autonomy.
  • A nervous sort of celebration

Russia worried about NATO:

Russia has demanded that NATO guarantees Ukraine will never join the alliance.

  • Russia believes that NATO is “encircling” Russia and posing a threat.
  • It is also said that NATO missile defence threatens Russian security.
  • Above all, NATO is believed to be a U.S. geopolitical project and has always tried to isolate or marginalise Russia.