SUPPORT US

What to expect at next month’s NATO leaders’ summit

What_to_expect_at_next_Montages.jpg

OP-ED

by Andrew Rasiulis

The Hill Times
June 8, 2016

This July, a NATO summit is set to take place in Warsaw, Poland. Sixty-one years prior, in May 1955, this same city was the site of the inauguration of the Soviet-backed Warsaw Pact Organization (WPO).

It was a very different geopolitical world. In 1955, West Germany was being integrated into NATO. The intra/inner-German border was defined as NATO’s central front, with its northern and southern flanks reaching from Norway to Turkey. This was a zero-sum Cold War stand-off between the ideological rivals as embodied by the member states of NATO and the WPO.

In 2016, the NATO summit in Warsaw is expected to deal with a politically, economically, and militarily redefined Europe. The Cold War rivalry has been replaced by multi-dimensional interests between contemporary NATO and the Russian Federation.

Today, there is both a convergence of interest (witness Syria), and a divergence (witness Ukraine).

With a resurgent Russia presenting a challenge on what is now being called its eastern flank, NATO government leaders have the opportunity to meet this challenge constructively, whereby the eastern flank need not become a new eastern front.

A new challenge for NATO is Russia’s recent use of military force as an instrument of politics: the classic Clausewitzian definition of war. From Georgia to Ukraine and then to Syria, Russia has used military might to further its foreign policy interests. This was not a Soviet-style Cold War redux, but rather a Russian response to what it perceived as a post-Cold War loss of influence.

The NATO Wales summit in 2014 also grappled with the resurgence of Russian military power and set out to craft a NATO response, which became known as a reassurance package, for its more vulnerable members along the eastern and southeastern flanks. Essentially, this was characterized by a big boost in NATO multinational exercises and a limited pre-positioning of weapons, such as one U.S. brigade’s worth of tanks.

The Warsaw summit will need to take stock of the varied confluence of interests since 2014, such as the establishment of the Minsk 2 process in February 2015, which put in place a precarious ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and a still-unfulfilled roadmap for a political settlement.

In the Middle East, developments such as the nuclear deal with Iran and the limited ceasefire in Syria were achieved with active diplomatic co-operation between the United States and Russia. The picture is one of a mix of antagonism and co-operation.

Reading the tea leaves on the summit preparations underway in Brussels and NATO capitals, it seems the outcome will lead to a further strengthening of the Wales reassurance package with something akin to a deterrence and defence package.

Speculation is that NATO will deploy “on a permanent rotational basis” about four multinational battalions in Poland and the Baltic states.

The nuance on “permanent” and “rotational” is to conform to what is perceived to be the letter, if not the spirit, of the 1997 NATO-Russian Founding Act prohibiting the permanent stationing of non-indigenous NATO troops in NATO countries east of Germany. Some observers argue that the NATO pledge not to station permanent forces was, in fact, conditional on the security situation faced by the alliance, and that under the current circumstances there is no valid prohibition.

The Russians recently reacted to this by stating that three new Russian divisions will be deployed in its western and southern flanks by the end of 2016. The Russians are indicating they will respond to any NATO build-up with whatever means are deemed necessary to protect their perceived national interests.

So far, this is the deterrence/defence track being taken by NATO and Russia. Add to this the issue of the level and type of military aid for Ukraine in its stalemate with the Russian-supported rebel enclaves in the Donbass.

Underlying this track is the concern in NATO that should the Russians decide to use limited, non-nuclear, military force against NATO in an effort to undermine the alliance’s cohesion, the Baltic states, vulnerable to a Russian incursion, would require reinforcement. How much is enough?

A Rand Corporation study from earlier this year suggests an answer in the context of a limited conventional Russian attack: seven brigades, three of which would need to be heavy-armoured. NATO leaders are unlikely to agree to such numbers, ergo the four-battalion option.

While the threat of a limited attack against the Baltic states is a challenge to be addressed by the Warsaw summit, there is also the opportunity to seek a corroborating detente/dialogue. To avoid having NATO’s eastern flank turn into its eastern front, the second track of detente and dialogue must build on areas of political convergence between NATO and Russia.

M. Andrew Rasiulis is retired from the public service and is now a freelance consultant with Andrew Rasiulis Associates Inc. He is also a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Image: U.S. Navy

 


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS


No events are scheduled at this time.


SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Global Times: BRICS summit displays the potential of a new future

by Editorial Staff (feat. Swaran Singh), WSFA 12, June 24, 2022

Oil's Dive Won't Bring Any Immediate Relief on Inflation

by Alex Longley, Elizabeth low, and Barbara Powell (feat. Amrita Sen), BNNBloomberg, June 24, 2022

China To Tout Its Governance Model At BRICS Summit

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), The Asean Post, June 23, 2022

Soutien aux victimes d’inconduites sexuelles dans l’armée

by Rude Dejardins (feat. Charlotte Duval-Lantoine), ICI Radio Canada, June 23, 2022

Defence: $4.9 billion for radars against Russian bombs

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), Archynews, June 23, 2022

The Hans Island “Peace” Agreement between Canada, Denmark, and Greenland

by Elin Hofverberg (feat. Natalie Loukavecha), Library of Congress, June 22, 2022

What the future holds for western Canadian oil producers

by Gabriel Friedman (feat. Kevin Birn), Beaumont News, June 22, 2022

At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), Aljazeera, June 22, 2022

Crude oil price: there are no changes to the fundamentals

by Faith Maina (feat. Amrita Sen), Invezz, June 22, 2022

Few details as Liberals promise billions to upgrade North American defences

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Andrea Charron), National Newswatch, June 20, 2022

Defence Minister Anita Anand to make announcement on continental defence

by Steven Chase (feat. Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2022

Table pancanadienne des politiques

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), ICI Radio Canada, June 18, 2022

Russia Ukraine conflict

by Gloria Macarenko (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, June 17, 2022

New privacy Bill to introduce rules for personal data, AI use

by Shaye Ganam (feat. Tom Keenan), 680 CHED, June 17, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email