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Research Report

Trends and Threats: NATO in the 21st Century

Ann-Sofie Dahl
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2014
Pages: 20
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 3-3)
    Ann-Sofie Dahl

    When NATO heads of state and government met in Wales in early September 2014, the agenda had changed dramatically since the first preparations for the NATO Summit began. While the exit from Afghanistan was originally expected to be the main theme of the Summit, the Russian intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea had confronted NATO, its allies and partners with a whole new set of strategic challenges and a significant shift in the European security environment.

    The challenges of a globalized world will keep NATO engaged outside of Europe, but the Ukraine crisis has demonstrated how NATO must...

  2. (pp. 4-5)
    Katarzyna Zysk

    The formal security commitment articulated in Article Five continues to be highly valued by NATO allies and those aspiring to become member countries. However, the form of warfare Russia has used in Ukraine has raised questions and doubts about the nature of the situations in which the collective defence guarantee would be activated, based on the definition of ‘an armed attack’ in the Alliance’s Article Five. In order to come to the aid of the attacked state, there must be an agreement that ‘an attack’ has indeed occurred.

    The unorthodox covert rebellious war in Ukraine – or ‘influence operation’, as...

  3. (pp. 6-7)
    Tomas Ries

    Amid the kaleidoscope of emerging global security challenges, Europe must focus on two clear and present dangers. The first is the ongoing domestic and social decline of Europe. If Europe fails to get its economies going, the continent risks an historical regression, descending back to impoverished national chauvinism and the partial or total breakup of the EU. The second danger is the return of an assertive Russia that is deeply alienated from liberal Europe.

    The Russian challenge can be broken down into five components. First, the deep gap in worldview between the Putin regime and liberal Europe. Second, the contrast...

  4. (pp. 8-9)
    Henrik Breitenbauch

    Russian actions in Ukraine have altered the security landscape in Europe, highlighting a renewed emphasis on the differences between members and non-members. In this context, NATO must a) create a strategic understanding of partnerships as something that can be transformative, even if it will not lead to membership in the short or even long term, and b) build such a strategic relationship with Ukraine. In sum, the Russian-induced Ukraine crisis should spur the reform of NATO partnerships – with Ukraine as a case in point.

    Since Ukraine, it has become natural for NATO to react with regard to its own...

  5. (pp. 10-11)
    Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen

    Two powerful trends will shape the future of the Alliance. The first is how the Western armed forces are becoming more capital-intensive at the same time as the allies are paying less for defence overall. The second trend is the increased commitments for all of the allies. The real question for NATO defence policy is how these trends constitute choices for European and North American decision-makers.

    The first trend is illustrated by the opposite table, which shows the cost per soldier in selected European countries from 1990–2010. At the end of the Cold War, defence spending was cut in...

  6. (pp. 12-13)
    Nina Græger

    The Russian–Ukraine crisis in 2014 should be a wakeup call for the EU and NATO. When adding the US pivot to Asia and the European economic crisis, more – not less – cooperation between the two security organizations is in demand.

    EU–NATO cooperation has been stuck in a political quagmire since the mid-2000s, leaving many politicians and scholars to conclude that very little is going on or that such formal cooperation is obsolete and outdated – or even inherently impossible. Instead, a range of new informal interaction patterns exist outside or on the fringe of formal institutions, arenas,...

  7. (pp. 14-15)
    Ian J. West

    While NATO may not be playing a major role in global cyber defence, it has made significant progress to protect its own systems, to improve the defence systems of the allies and to collaborate with partners in industry and academia. The cyber threats facing the Alliance are largely similar to other large organizations and governments. Threats from global malware, targeted attacks against NATO and ‘hacktivism’ top the threat table.

    Cyber defence has been on the agendas of almost all of the NATO summits and meetings of principals since 2002. In the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept, the Alliance recognized the importance...

  8. (pp. 16-17)
    Matthew J. Bryza

    In a moment of friendly candour, one of the most senior officials from the Russian Foreign Ministry told me privately in late 2008, ‘We Russians are hard because we know we are weak. When we have an issue on which we know we are stronger, we will fight like mad. And, for us, that key issue is energy’.

    Indeed, Russia has repeatedly used natural gas as a strategic weapon, most notably when it cut off gas to Ukraine and the EU in 2006, 2009 and 2010. A lesser-known case occurred in Lithuania in 2012, when Gazprom admitted it was punishing...

  9. (pp. 18-19)
    Ann-Sofie Dahl

    For the past twenty years, Sweden and Finland have cherished their privileged positions as NATO’s most active and engaged partners in the otherwise rather disparate group of PfP countries, the two countries alternating in the role as the Alliance’s ‘partner number one’.

    As operational partners, security producers and substantial contributors to basically all NATO operations in the last two decades, the Nordic partners have earned special positions for themselves within the extended NATO community. The ISAF operation provided the two countries – as well as other operational partners – with an unparalleled platform for even closer and more confidential cooperation...