The 2022 NATO Summit will take place in Madrid on the 29th and 30th June. All 30 of the member nations will be present, as well as a number of significant partner countries. Regarding the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the meeting in Spain where the date was decided commented: “We need to keep adapting for the future. And that is exactly what we will do at the Madrid Summit.”
This summit can be seen as crucial for the security of the Euro-Atlantic sphere, because 2022 is full of threats and challenges that need to be addressed properly. The brutal attack of Russia on Ukraine not only jeopardized Ukraine’s stability and the territorial integrity but also the security of the entire Euro-Atlantic sphere. As a consequence of this disastrous war, the Euro-Atlantic region faces hurdles related to energy security, food shortages, and the crisis that threatens the existing world order. To put it bluntly, this summit will primarily focus on adapting and making new decisions to deal with these multifaceted challenges, strengthening NATO’s resilience, and long-term support for Ukraine and other partners.
According to the NATO official website, six major priorities will be the focus of attention in dealing with the challenges:1)Strengthening NATO’s long-term deterrence and defense, 2) Sustaining support for Ukraine, 3) Launching NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept , 4) Reinforcing partnerships and maintaining an Open Door, 5) Adapting to threats and challenges from any direction, 6) Transatlantic unity and Alliance solidarity.
This year’s NATO summit can be the event of major announcements. As a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, NATO may announce a plan to strengthen its eastern flank. The propaganda machine in Russia that claims Russia is at war with NATO in Ukraine is so potent that Russia does not even try to hide the fact that it is opposed to the current global order and NATO. The fact that this conflict may directly affect alliance territory is known to NATO, and it is clear that this conflict has already had a negative impact on the alliance in indirect ways. NATO can no longer ignore Russia’s warning messages, as the Kremlin officials frequently criticize and threaten NATO for its support of Ukraine, this level of assistance has the potential to determine the outcome of this brutal war. To cite an example, the former president of Russia, Medvedev stated:
“People often ask me why my Telegram posts are so harsh. The answer is that I hate NATO. They are bastards and scum. They want death for us, for Russia. And as long as I’m alive, I’ll do anything I can to make them disappear”
He also commented what can happen if Ukraine uses the western military equipment to strike Russian territories, according to Medvedev, such a scenario will result in strikes on other decision-making centers “not located on the territory of Kyiv.” This is an obvious threat that NATO decision-makers will not dismiss.
Additionally, it will be decided whether to begin the accession processes for Sweden and Finland at this summit. Due to their advantageous strategic location, highly developed military capabilities, access to cutting-edge technologies, and a long history of cooperation with NATO, the two developed Nordic states of Sweden and Finland would undoubtedly strengthen NATO’s resources if they joined. However, it is worth noting that Turkey is opposed to Sweden and Finland’s accession due to their anti-terrorism legislation and close ties with Kurds. As a consequence, Turkey can delay this process until its national interests are met.
The release of NATO’s new strategic concept, the most significant strategic document, makes this summit potentially historic. In this document, the alliance’s objectives and ten-year vision will be outlined. Moreover, the strategic document will assign tasks to members and partners to accomplish the goals.
The world has changed, and so has the security architecture of the Euro-Atlantic sphere; not long ago, no one could have predicted such a full-scale war on the European continent; this will undoubtedly affect NATO and define its new strategies for the next decade. Previously, the most important NATO tasks were primarily related to Iraq and Afghanistan; however, now Russia has emerged as the primary threat to the transatlantic sphere’s peace and stability. Due to the fact that it will be somehow acknowledged that NATO no longer views Russia as a partner but rather a threat, the significant shift will be visible at this summit.
This summit is also critical for NATO partners, including Moldova and Georgia. NATO consistently demonstrates its commitment to its open door policy. Moldova, despite being a neutral state, fears that Russia has evil plans for it. Russia could use the occupied region of Transnistria and pro-Russian groups to destabilize Moldova, which has recently become a candidate state for the European Union. Georgia is viewing this summit as a potential new direction for NATO-Georgia relations. There are high expectations in Tbilisi that now is the time to begin a new chapter in the relations and make significant steps because the country is in a challenging geopolitical situation. At this summit, Georgians anticipate that NATO will announce to provide more support to help Georgia and other NATO partners to build their capacities and resilience to deter any kind of threats coming from Russia and anywhere else.
Lastly, it is important to underline another factor that makes this summit historic, this summit will be focused on global issues more than ever before and will be discussed the threats coming from China for the first time. The United States, the leading NATO state, used this summit to serve as the platform for coordination among Asia-Pacific allies to jointly confront China, with leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea participating for the first time. It is not a surprise that China, as a rising power, will be discussed in a new strategic concept, and it is also clear that NATO key figures are concerned about the possibility of Russo-Chinese collaboration and other potential threats from “Iron Brotherhood”.