There are other points of tension. For example, the NATO allies have made no secret of their frustration with Biden’s decision to unconditionally withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11th. Many NATO members are also concerned about Turkey’s departure from the alliance and democratic norms, making Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the focus of the day’s most important bilateral meetings with Biden and also with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “It’s no secret that we have big differences with Turkey,” Mitsotakis told France24.
It’s not all hyper-serious military business, however. Brussels’ famous Manneken Pis war trophy has a new outfit for the day.
- 1 If the G-7 was about containing China, is it fair to say that the NATO summit is more about containing Russia?
- 2 How much are we going to hear about the infamous 2 percent target?
- 3 What do you think of the subtle turnaround towards China that the NATO leadership is driving forward?
- 4 What will other NATO members do to prevent Turkey drifting away from the Alliance mainstream?
If the G-7 was about containing China, is it fair to say that the NATO summit is more about containing Russia?
Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor:
That’s fair, Ryan. At least from a US perspective. NATO will raise many issues – Afghanistan, cybersecurity among others – but the focus will be on Russia and its aggressions. Biden officials say the president will go to his meeting with Putin in a position of strength, also because he comes from NATO, where he will seek advice and support for his meeting. At home, Biden is criticized for holding the meeting now, but the White House thinks it is a good time because it comes after NATO.
Rym Momtaz, Senior Correspondent, France:
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sees it differently. He told reporters this morning that he sees China everywhere: “It is investing heavily in new military capabilities, including nuclear capabilities and also in more advanced weapons systems,” adding that China is investing “in cyberspace, we are seeing them in Africa, in the Arctic.” “, Stoltenberg said. “We also see China investing heavily in our own critical infrastructure and trying to control it.” But he said that shouldn’t prevent NATO members from having constructive discussions “on issues like climate change and arms control.”
Today there is a lot more about Russia than at the G7 summit. Russia is Europe’s largest neighbor and has invaded Ukraine, which wants to become a member of both NATO and the EU. Many suspect Belarus is next, and the Baltic countries fear they could be after Belarus. If you read about the rise in cybercrime, you don’t have to look far from the Kremlin to find out why.
How much are we going to hear about the infamous 2 percent target?
Nahal Toosi, foreign correspondent:
I expect the United States will raise the question of whether NATO members spend 2 percent of GDP more on defense than many expect. It could take place behind closed doors – it will not be like in the years of Donald Trump with widely visible complaints that, for example, Germany “owes” the US money, which does not work. But Biden and his aides know the fact that many NATO countries are still below the 2 percent threshold and the message that is being sent to the American public. Biden will commit himself independently of Article 5 (the mutual self-defense provision), unlike Trump, who wavered on it.
Kumar: I totally agree with Nahal. US officials say Biden will address the issue, but they will do so privately. As the world’s leaders are gradually discovering, Trump and Biden don’t always agree on politics, sometimes it’s about their style. Biden has quickly normalized politics and diplomacy back to the way most countries are used to, and that means things are said behind closed doors.
Andy Blatchford, Canada Correspondent:
Include Canada among the alliance members who have been criticized by Trump at past NATO summits for failing to invest a large enough percentage of its GDP in military spending. (Trump’s complaints sparked tension among leaders – you may recall Trump calling Justin Trudeau “two faces” at the 2019 summit following the prime minister’s hot mic moment.) Canadian insiders say they expect that this year’s summit is less about money and more about the future of Allianz after a challenging four-year phase. That would be a relief for Ottawa. Expect Canada to also argue that it has significantly increased its defense spending and contributions to NATO. Canada, for example, expanded its permanent presence in NATO by more than 20 percent between 2014 and 2021, the official said.
Hans von der Burchard, Political Reporter, Brussels:
The civilian leadership of NATO is delivering a two-sided message that NATO members must continue to invest more, but also that they are on the right track. Stoltenberg said this morning: “We have now had seven consecutive years of increased defense spending across Europe and Canada” and “I am also confident that NATO leaders will agree to invest more together to meet our high ambitions to become”.
What do you think of the subtle turnaround towards China that the NATO leadership is driving forward?
David M. Herszenhorn, chief correspondent in Brussels:
It is necessary. Defense experts say against China: many European military would be completely useless. “European armed forces are not ready to fight with their equipment,” said analysts at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank near the White House. wrote in a recent report. “And the equipment they have is not good enough.” These are big problems for any pivot to China – the report goes on to say, “Europe lacks capabilities such as in-air refueling for fighter jets, transport aircraft for troops and high-end reconnaissance and surveillance drones,” all of which are essential for long-range military operations.
Pagan: Stoltenberg is smart. He both sees the threat from China and knows that it means keeping the US near and far from his back. Biden and Stoltenberg will prevail in the end, but not without a fight. France does not believe that NATO should expand its remit beyond its founding transatlantic mandate, while the Eastern European countries and the Baltic states want the focus to remain on Russia. The best way to square that circle would be to invest more everywhere. Fortunately, we are in an era of multi-trillion dollar fiscal expansion.
What will other NATO members do to prevent Turkey drifting away from the Alliance mainstream?
Toosi: When I ask people about this, I am told that no one wants Turkey out of NATO for any number of reasons. But there are serious concerns about Ankara’s long-term prospects. If there is a creative way to solve problems, such as what to do with the S-400 air defense system from Russia bought by Turkey (put it under joint US-Turkish supervision?), It still seems a long way from removed from reality. I am particularly keeping an eye on Turkey’s role in Afghanistan. Turkey is reportedly considering offering to continue guarding Kabul airport in exchange for the US ditching it for the S-400.
Kumar: Nice that you mentioned Turkey, Ryan. It’s really overshadowed by China and Russia, but when they speak to current and former US officials they mention Turkey as one of the biggest problems NATO is facing. That is why Biden has a bilateral meeting with Erdoğan on Monday. The two leaders have known each other for years, but it will be their first as presidents. It’s likely a tense meeting because Biden enraged Turkey by declaring the mass murders and deportations of Armenians from the Ottoman era as “genocide”. Former presidents, including Barack Obama, avoided the term because they did not want to complicate relations with Turkey.
Thank you for attending this NATO summit preview – we will be back this afternoon with insights from the event.