NATO leaders hope to open a new chapter in transatlantic relations at a summit with US President Joe Biden on Monday. The alliance agreed for the first time to focus on combating climate change and countering China’s military rise.
The summit was described by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as a “critical moment” and aimed to turn a page in the four-year tense relationship with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Trump’s remarks that NATO is “outdated” have shaken people’s confidence in NATO.
Stoltenberg announced that NATO’s decision today will send an important signal about alliance cohesion. He emphasized the need to continue to strengthen the “collective defense” under the alliance’s 2030 agenda.
Message to Russia
Stoltenberg said that relations with Russia are at the lowest level since the Cold War, and pointed out that NATO “the most important message to Russia is that we are united and it cannot divide us.”
However, he added that NATO will continue to talk with Russia with open arms, and that this will be discussed among NATO allies before the meeting between President Biden and President Vladimir Putin.
NATO was established in 1949 and has 30 member states. Diplomats said that the meeting held in Brussels sought to help the nuclear weapon alliance respond to various threats, including severe weather that could exacerbate conflicts, and secret attacks by Russia to undermine “Western democracies.”
The diplomat said that before Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Tuesday, the NATO summit may discuss Russia’s attempt to split the West.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, NATO has modernized its defense system, but it is still vulnerable to cyber attacks and disinformation, and Russia denies any attempts to destabilize NATO member states.
Regarding China, Stoltenberg said, “We have seen an increase in Chinese military equipment and hostilities in the South China Sea.”
Stoltenberg emphasized that the allies are unified in their relations with China, and that NATO has not entered the Cold War with China, and explained that China is not an enemy of NATO.
Turn a page of Trump
However, the diplomats said that the NATO leader’s biggest concern is whether Biden needs to renew the United States’ commitment to NATO’s collective defense after the Trump era ends.
During the NATO summit from 2017 to 2019, Trump tended to confront his allies, and special envoys said that Trump’s words gave people a sense of crisis.
China’s increased military and economic presence in the Atlantic Ocean, including joint military exercises with Russia, will face a strong response from NATO leaders.
US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said: “You will not see a large section of China in the statement. The language used in the statement will not be provocative, it will be clear, direct, and straightforward.”
It is expected that the summit will also commit to a significant reduction in the carbon emissions of the armed forces by 2050.
NATO allies will also adopt a code of conduct to end tensions caused by the unilateral decision of the United States to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Turkish military intervention in Syria, Libya, and the Caucasus.
Biden will hold a long meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the working meeting.