July 30, 2021

NATO’s New Strategic Concept. Balancing Responses to Multiple Threats.

Group of experts presents report to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Group of experts presents report to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

At their summit in Brussels in June 2021, NATO leaders invited Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to lead the process of drafting a new strategic concept, expected to be agreed at their next meeting in Spain in 2022. NATO is challenged by Russia, China, and the south. Can its new concept find a balanced response? 

The current concept, which was published in 2010, is clearly outdated. The new version will need to tackle a broad range of issues if it is to steer the Alliance through the coming decade. Probably the most important is prioritising and determining responses to the various geographic challenges and threats to Euro-Atlantic security: principally those from Russia, China, and the regions to NATO’s south and south-east. Allies have not always seen eye-to-eye on the magnitude of these threats and challenges, or on what NATO’s role in dealing with them should be, resulting in tension inside the Alliance.

This analysis looks at Baltic interests in this question and compares them with the official statements of other Allies and opinions expressed by thought leamders from Allied states. It finds a broad consensus about the need to take the threat from Russia seriously and about NATO’s role in continuing to deter, and if necessary, defend against Russia. At the same time, it recognises that NATO will need to satisfy the security concerns of other Allies—and indeed of the Baltic states themselves—by taking more seriously security challenges from China and from the south. A balance ought to be possible but, with the US increasingly turning its attention to the Indo-Pacific region, an unavoidable conclusion is that the European Allies will need to do more.

Download and read: NATO’s New Strategic Concept

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