NATO’s Strategic Concept 2022 Views 75% Of The BRICS Economies A Security Threat – Analysis

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By Chris Devonshire-Ellis  

The annual NATO summit has been taking place in Spain, including NATO members Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States. This year, Australia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Sweden are not member states of NATO but were invited to attend and participate in the summit, while Ukraine took part remotely. The presidents of the European Council and European Commission were also invited.

The NATO grouping issued a ‘Strategic Concept’ statement following the meeting in which it stated that members consider Russia the “most significant and direct threat” to its security. The bloc also intends to counter China, expand its partnership in the Asia Pacific Region and on the post-Soviet territory, and reinforce its own defense capabilities.

Here are the key points of the new Strategic Concept followed by my comments.

Russia As A Threat

NATO recognizes Russia the most significant and direct threat to the alliance’s security.

The organization no longer wants to view Russia as a partner, but it is ready to maintain communications channel open. NATO also claims it does not seek confrontation with Russia and does not pose a threat to it. The relations between NATO and Russia may change, but this depends on Moscow, the alliance stated.

Comment: NATO has expressly stated that is nothing to do with NATO and that any engagements between Russia and NATO ‘depend’ on Moscow. This implies that NATO will not be prepared to enter into any discussions with Russia unless they are on NATO’s terms.    

Countering China

NATO believes that deepening of partnership between Russia and China violates the alliance’s values and interests. According to NATO, China seeks to undermine the current world order by controlling global logistics and its economy.

Comment: This signals another communications breakdown, this time with China. The use of the term ‘violates’ is particularly strong. The mention of the ‘current world order’ is interesting as in the BRICS statement just last week, the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) stated that the ‘current world order’ was preserving a ‘unipolar world’ with the United States essentially in control and that they wanted to devolve this structure into a fairer, ‘multipolar’ world with greater say in world affairs from all nations. NATO appears to view that as a threat to its own interests. This is a clear signal of a near complete breakdown between the Western countries represented by NATO – and the emerging global economies. 

It is also of interest that NATO believes that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – although not specifically mentioned – is a security risk as China has invested in logistics capabilities on a global basis – at a time when the West has not. In fact, an OECD report from 2018 stated that the BRI was “regionally positive and statistically significant” in developing global trade. Opinions concerning the BRI have been many and varied, basically boiling down to a choice about the BRI (and therefore China) either being a security threat or being a global trade conduit. This is a matter of perception, rather than facts. In this case NATO’s criticism of China appears based less on a reality truth than as a perceived truth. This is a difficult, almost impossible bridge to cross. It also indicates that NATO wishes to cut itself off from any BRI connectivity. Given that there are currently 195 countries globally and that 138 of them have signed BRI agreements that also leaves NATO with a remarkably small pool of future trade and infrastructure partners. I question the wisdom of this.      

Indo-Pacific

The alliance plans to deepen cooperation with its partners in the Indo-Pacific.

Comment: NATO – actually the ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’ – was formed at the end of World War Two to preserve peace and conclude ties between North America and Europe. It has become expansionist with obvious intent to deepen cooperation with its ‘partners’ in the Indo-Pacific. This geographical enlargement is therefore real and has been largely created to respond to the perceived China threat. Others may view that as an expansion of certain NATO members wishing to increase military sales.  

Reinforcement of the bloc

NATO expansion has become a historic success for the alliance, reinforcing it and ensuring “security of millions of European citizens.”

Comment: This phrase hangs on the words ‘historic success’ and how this is measured, which is not provided in any context nor backed up by any statistics. It is hard to know what is meant by this statement. In terms of European murder rates for example, according to the European Commission, they increased by 3.3% in 2020. It is a concern when gun violence in the US has been rapidly increasing under the mantra that increasing gun ownership improves security. The EU needs to be very careful here.     

NATO intends to “significantly strengthen” its forces for deterrence of Russia and self-defense. The member states agreed to expand their military budgets above 2% of GDP.

The alliance views strategic nuclear forces, especially the US ones, as the highest guarantee of its security. The NATO nuclear deterrence strategy also depends on forward deployment of US nuclear weapons and contribution of interested allies.

NATO plans to develop advanced technologies, including military application of artificial intelligence.

The bloc considers external attack on its members possible.

Comment: This basically means that weapons of mass destruction will be increased for use in the EU, together with increased deployment of US troops. While it is understood that defenses are necessary, significant increases of foreign troops and weapons in Europe will also add to an element of increased societal fear amongst the population. What used to be a European sense of freedom is in risk of being replaced by a European sense of unease and schizophrenia.  

Ties with Ukraine

The bloc will continue reinforcing its partnership ties with Ukraine and Georgia, who seek to join the alliance.

NATO leaders adopted a program of enhanced support to Ukraine, providing as much military and financial aid to Kiev as necessary.

Comment: These will be seen an inflammatory comments in Moscow. It is also uncertain what providing ‘military and financial aid to Kiev as necessary’ means. To what extent is necessary?  

Summary

The NATO ‘Strategic Concept’ appears to be the military arm to enforce the United States into new geographical territories and to provide increased weapons to the alliance as the lead in what the BRICS countries have stated in contrast is a ‘unipolar’ world.

It should also be noted that in doing so, it can also be seen as viewing the BRICS countries as a threat – collective China and Russia GDP within BRICS equate to 75% of the BRICS groups total GDP. Taken in this context, it appears that NATO is also now targeting trade.

This is in direct contrast to the recent BRICS Summit Declaration, which was released last week, and which Chinese Premier Xi Jinping suggested should be mandatory reading. The attitudes and opinions expressed in the BRICS agenda are far more inclusive that those emanating from this NATO document.

Quite frankly, it can be read that NATO, which includes most of the G7 nations, the EU, UK and United States, have quite categorically stated that neither China nor Russia are welcome – and if attempts are made to change the NATO Strategic Concept – then force will be applied to uphold it. This is a deeply flawed, provocative and aggressively worrying step to yet more conflicts.

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About Us

Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists British and Foreign Investment into Asia and has 28 offices throughout China, India, the ASEAN nations and Russia. For strategic and business intelligence concerning China’s Belt & Road Initiative please email silkroad@dezshira.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com

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