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What to expect from Biden’s first NATO summit as US president | NATO News

On Monday, 30 leaders and heads of state will gather for a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, home of the 1949 security alliance.

At Joe Biden’s first NATO summit as US president, he will be eager to reassure his allies that “America is back” after four tumultuous years of former US President Donald Trump, who declared l NATO “obsolete,” called member countries “deadbeats,” and initially refused to explicitly endorse NATO’s principle of mutual defense.

A new ‘2030 Strategic Concept’ describing how the alliance plans to address the various challenges it currently faces should be launched.

NATO’s current strategic concept dates back to 2010, but “has not taken the prospect of Russian aggression as seriously as it needs to be, and has barely mentioned China,” said James Goldgeier, professor of international relations at the American University and former Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council.

The need to reflect the changing security landscape was invoked by French President Emmanuel Macron, with his 2019 criticism that the alliance was “brain dead” and no longer fit for purpose.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will propose to focus more on issues such as cyber warfare, China, Russia, strategic competition with authoritarian states and the effects of climate change on international security, experts say .

Here are five things to know:


One of the most pressing topics on the agenda is how NATO will ensure the stability of Afghanistan as it ends operations in the region.

US troops and their NATO allies are expected to withdraw their 9,600-man mission before Biden’s September 11 deadline – after nearly two decades of conflict in the region.

Critics, including former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, warn of the risk of the Taliban regaining control.

The al-Qaeda network – which provided the US justification for the invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks – still has 400 to 600 members fighting with the Taliban, according to the UN Security Council.

In an interview with CNN in April, members of Al Qaeda said a “war against the United States would continue on all other fronts unless”.

NATO plans to continue to financially support the Afghan security forces. But questions remain as to whether the allies will pledge millions – perhaps billions – of dollars to provide serious equipment and training programs to Afghanistan.

US military officials have also discussed establishing bases in neighboring countries so that they can return to Afghanistan if threats come from al Qaeda or ISIS.

The United States would like to operate in Pakistan, but given Islamabad’s often strained relationship with Washington, this is unlikely under Biden.

The Pentagon would also be in favor of returning to its bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, he added, a decision that would require the blessing of China and Russia.

“It will be much more difficult than 10 years ago,” he said, as relations between the United States and these two powers deteriorated.


The leaders will also discuss strengthening NATO’s collective defense, with a focus on “an increasingly aggressive Russia,” said Kristine Berzina, senior researcher at the US German Marshall Fund.

Over the past year, Russia has sent 150,000 troops to its border with Ukraine in what Stoltenberg has called “the largest mass of Russian troops” since Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula in 2014, prompting NATO to warn Russia that renewed “aggression” would have consequences.

The rift between Western governments and Russia has also widened following the near-fatal poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny last August, which many blamed on Moscow – a claim he denies.

At the summit, the United States will likely be asked if it is ready to commit more troops and tanks to Europe, position more equipment in Europe and strengthen air defense on the continent, Jamie Shea said. , principal researcher in Brussels. -char Friends of Europe and former NATO staff.

“Countries like Romania, Bulgaria, would certainly like to see stronger American defense in the region.”


In a recent speech, Stoltenberg noted that Beijing is not viewed by NATO as an adversary, but that China’s rise to power has direct implications for the security of the transatlantic alliance.

“China is not seen as a threat per se, but as something that could move in a contradictory direction,” Berzina said.

NATO allies condemned China’s human rights abuses, including its crackdown on dissidents in Hong Kong and the internment of a million members of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population in the northwestern region of China. Xinjiang.

Other NATO concerns include threats from China to invade Taiwan, Beijing’s growing militarization and its approach to the Indo-Pacific region, which Dr. Kathleen Hicks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, described as increasingly “coercive and aggressive”.

Berzina says that under Trump there was “a certain desire in Europe to maintain equidistance between the two great powers and not to be drawn into the American conflict, especially when relations with the United States were as bad as they were. they were ”.

While Berzina says there is even more “lag” in Europe on the China issue than the United States would like, Shea expects more alignment with Beijing.

“Europe has woken up to the challenge of China,” he said.

The EU sanctioned Chinese officials in March for the first time in 30 years on the Uyghur issue.

France, Germany and the UK recently sent warships to the Indo-Pacific region, showing that Europe has “an interest in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Rafael Loss said. , coordinator of pan-European data projects at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“NATO could seek closer cooperation with partners such as Australia, India, Japan and South Korea. He should also seriously think about how he can help protect democracy in Taiwan, ”Loss says.

Defense spending

NATO members will decide whether to increase the organization’s common budget for more joint capabilities, such as training, exercises and enhanced cyber defenses.

Stoltenberg called on the allies to “invest more” and “better” and proposed that they collectively contribute $ 20 billion to common budgets over the next 10 years.

Currently, the common pot stands at 0.3% of total Allied defense spending, or some $ 2.5 billion.

French officials have expressed opposition to the offer to lift pooled funding.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly told Politico this month: “All this money is money that will not be used to increase national budgets and a European defense effort for the benefit of NATO . And to do what ? No one can tell you.

Berzina anticipates spending will be a concern for some NATO members: “There have always been leaders and laggards in spending. There will be trade-offs, but I think it will be difficult, especially in the COVID-19 economic landscape. “

And then the EU summit

A day later, Tuesday, Biden and EU figures will hold a summit in Brussels.

Experts said tariffs and trade on aircraft and metals are a key topic, along with how to apply a new global minimum corporate tax rate as part of a landmark deal. on June 5 by the Group of 7 Finance Ministers.

Other issues will include data transfer, pandemic recovery, climate policy and carbon pricing systems.

As Europe looks forward to welcoming Biden to the region, the previous administration has shown how quickly Washington’s priorities can change.

European leaders do not yet know how Biden’s “middle class foreign policy” strategy differs from Trump’s “America First” agenda, Goldgeier says.

“It will be a crucial question for Europe”.

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