Coinciding with the NATO Summit Wales 2014, the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society released the policy paper A Fateful Summit: The Future of NATO’s Relationship with Russia. The paper outlines the post-Cold War relationship between NATO and Russia – one in which the alliance attempted to accommodate the Kremlin – before examining how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically changed the landscape of European security, necessitating a reassertion of NATO military credibility on the continent.
Key findings of the report include:
- Russia’s invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea caught NATO off-guard and has thrown the alliance’s relationship with Russia into crisis. Russia has gone from being a ‘strategic partner’ to a hostile aggressor.
- NATO must review the threat posed by Russia and consider how it would respond should the situation in Ukraine worsen or repeat itself in a NATO country.
- Russia perceives that NATO lacks the political will to respond to aggression, and the absence of such a review would risk confirming this. Similar concerns voiced by the alliance’s top leadership makes it imperative for NATO members to renew their commitments with regards to defence spending.
- NATO must develop new strategies for dealing with the threat posed by Russia, including: addressing unconventional forms of warfare; undertaking a programme of rearmament to rebuild its military capacity; undertaking regular large-scale military exercises involving all levels of decision-making; developing credible conventional forces; and undertaking the forward deployment of troops to eastern Europe.
- For over two decades, NATO’s security priorities had focussed on terrorism and failed states. While these remain vital, the drawdown in Afghanistan coupled to events in Ukraine mean that the alliance must prioritise the defence of eastern Europe in its next chapter.
- The Wales Summit is the most important meeting – and most difficult test – for NATO in a generation.