The Ukraine war is likely to influence the North Atlantic Treaty Organization greatly. It is expected to establish an entirely new strategy at the Madrid Summit in June 2022. It is clear that adapting NATO’s defense and deterrence policy to the current security situation within Eastern Europe will be a vital issue when moving to Madrid. It extends to North Africa and the Sahel through the Balkans and beyond towards the Balkans and the Middle East. NATO’s “South” is an area that has been vulnerable to increasing threats and isn’t immune to the greater strategic rivalry between Russia and China.
Instead of changing NATO into one entity, the new strategy concept offers the alliance the chance to rethink its approach toward the South. “We as leaders of the government and state from 30 NATO Allies met today to discuss the Russian aggression against Ukraine that poses the most dangerous threat to the security of the Euro-Atlantic region over the last several decades”. The declaration issued after the summit was unprecedented in Brussels on March 24, 2022. In March 2022, NATO officials communicated that Russia is an unprecedented risk, which the alliance must take from the beginning.
Strategic planning is the most important document in politics since it concentrates on the global security situation, pinpoints the most serious challenges and risks to the security of the European-Atlantic countries, and suggests a plan to deal with these challenges. The region spans North Africa and the Sahel until the Balkans as well as the Balkans and the Middle East. NATO’s “South” is battling numerous issues and isn’t protected from rivalries between Russia and China. The promotion of “forward resilience” demands NATO develop new ideas and enhance cooperation with other organizations and start with the cooperation of NATO in NATO’s cooperation with the European Union.
Security and crisis management were the order of the day. They were demonstrated by the military involvement of allies (whether within the NATO umbrella or in informal alliances) across Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the Sahel, and Syria.
However, this is no longer the case. This is not just about overhauling NATO’s deterrence and common defense pillars, boosting collaboration in technological advancement, and strengthening the security of NATO nations against hybrid threats such as cyber-attacks or disinformation campaigns.
In parallel to this, the United States and its European allies have seen a rise in “intervention exhaustion,” as illustrated by the sudden departure from Afghanistan. Even the apparent peace and stability in The Western Balkans is misleading due to the persistent, long-running tensions in the political realm between Serbia and Kosovo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The factual prioritization in security collectives over security and crisis management may be necessary, but it’s not without risk.
The southern region of NATO is increasingly important in the strategic battle against Moscow and Beijing. The growing influence of Russia’s military and diplomatic involvement in the South, whether direct (as in Syria) or indirectly through intermediaries or private military companies (as in Libya and Mali), is a source of growing worry. In addition to aiding in the stability of Mali, Russian mercenaries have been involved in mass murders there, as was evident within the village of Moura towards the end of March.
China’s increasing political and economic influence has also affected NATO’s goals. Additionally, China’s enormous investment in energy and transport infrastructure in the southern part of Europe could affect NATO’s ability to move and be ready in times of crisis.
NATO’s general objectives concerning the South haven’t changed concerning the security of the southern neighbor is still a key element of NATO’s security in the Euro-Atlantic region. This implies that the type of NATO engagement with the South must change in at least two different ways.
The first step is that NATO ought to adopt a 360° strategy for deterrence in line with the recent pledge to “significantly enhance. While allies are bolstering their defensive capabilities along the eastern border of NATO, for example, the deployment of additional troops and capabilities, safeguarding Southern flank security requires a new approach based on rotating maritime presences both in those in the Mediterranean as well as the Black Sea.
While allies contemplate how they can improve NATO’s defensive strategy and defense strategy, they must be looking to improve its credibility in the strategic maritime zones. Additionally, suppose that NATO continues to review its missile defense strategy due to the increasing threat in the East. In that case, it is important to consider the growing number of precision-guided missiles and medium and short-range missiles based in the South.
The second point is that NATO should be mindful of the shift towards an indirect approach to stabilizing the world. This is in line with the emerging notion known as “forward resilient,” namely the need to build NATO partners’ ability to withstand threats from enemies and to face other issues like terrorists, organized crime, and the impacts of climate change.
A strategy for forward-resilience should make partnerships the main focus in the region, both with regional actors and other relevant organizations, most notably the European Union, given that the needs of local allies transcend the security realm. This will force European allies to assume more responsibility for defense and security.
As Europeans intensify their defense spending and effort, NATO will arguably remain their primary source of reference for deterrence and defense.
Additionally, global or asymmetric issues like the rise of organized crime, terrorism, the proliferation of small arms, and irregular migration will likely be the main factors that cause instability across the South.
In this context, the alliance must keep a 360-degree view of deterrence to ensure that the current deterrence strategy also addresses the new challenges facing the South. Allies should also be able to remain ready to respond in the case of a crisis within the southern part of the region, including EU cooperation.
NATO should be investing in the South’s resilience and development and also strengthen its partnerships with other regional and key actors, beginning by establishing a partnership with and including the European Union.