Keeping NATO Relevant: Sino-Russian Convergence in the Alliance’s Focus

Written by | Saturday, March 20th, 2021

“We must also be wary of the rising threat from authoritarian powers,“ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned, referring to Russia and China, both of whom are now working more closely together, including militarily, whereby it is such issues that “define the challenges facing NATO.” Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday (16 March) where he presented his annual report for the last 12 months, Stoltenberg said that „we see a more assertive Russia which has been responsible for cyberattacks against NATO allies and attempted to meddle in domestic [political] processes.” The Norwegian also said the pandemic has not affected NATO’s “ability to defend our allies and this remains undiminished,“ but warned that „we remain ready and vigilant.”
Speaking from NATO’s Brussels headquarters, the official said that despite the economic impact of the crisis, 2020 witnessed the “6th successive year of increased defence spending … by 3.9%” by NATO members, adding that “this is trend is expected to continue this year.” In the past, former US President Donald Trump heavily criticised many NATO members for allegedly not paying enough to support the Alliance. But “in a year of upheaval, overall support for the NATO Alliance, the transatlantic bond and collective defence remains strong” said the NATO Secretary General. “This increase in spending is vital because the security challenges have not gone away.”
Stoltenberg also cited a survey which, he said, showed that some 62% of citizens in NATO countries would vote to remain in the alliance. “Only 11% voted against while most believe that NATO membership makes an attack by a foreign nation less likely.” The results of new polls on the public perception of the Alliance, Stoltenberg said, “show that, in a year of upheaval, overall support for the NATO Alliance, the transatlantic bond and collective defence remains strong.” He also singled out Russia’s “destabilising behaviour” and the “rise of China” as two clear threats, along with cyberattacks and the “continuing threat” posed by terrorism. “No one country can tackle these alone which is why NATO and Europe must work closer together,” the NATO Secretary General stressed.

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