News   /   Military   /   Russia   /   EU   /   More

NATO steeply downgrades Russia from ‘strategic partner’ to ‘most direct threat’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference during the NATO summit at the Ifema congress center in Madrid, Spain, on June 29, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

NATO has officially declared Russia the “most significant and direct threat” to the security of its members, marking a radical strategic shift spurred by the Russian military offensive against Ukraine.

In a document that defines the alliance’s strategic outlook for the next decade, titled Strategic Concept 2022, NATO said Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine “has shattered peace and gravely altered our security environment.”

“The Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area,” the 30-member NATO said in the text.

Russia “uses conventional, cyber and hybrid means against us and our partners. Its coercive military posture, rhetoric and proven willingness to use force to pursue its political goals undermine the rules-based international order,” read the document, which was released on Wednesday, the second day of a NATO summit held in Madrid, Spain.

The military bloc also said members had decided to increase their military presence in Europe in response to Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, even though Moscow has repeatedly cited the Western military alliance’s eastward expansion as a security concern.

The last such document, published in 2010, had described Russia as a “strategic partner.”

Separately, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the Russian offensive “the greatest security crisis in Europe since the Second World War.”

Since the onset of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, the United States and its European allies have unleashed a flood of advanced weapons into the ex-Soviet country to help its military fend off Russian forces and imposed waves of unprecedented sanctions against Moscow.

Russia has said that the Western flood of weapons into Ukraine and the sanctions would prolong the ongoing war.

Finland and Sweden, historically non-aligned states, have also cited the war to seek membership in NATO. The US-led military bloc on Wednesday approved the applications of the two Nordic countries in a collective decision, which was denounced by the Kremlin as a “destabilizing move.”

Earlier, Turkey had been objecting to Finland and Sweden’s accession, saying the pair were sheltering members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group deemed terrorist by Ankara. However, on Tuesday and after intense talks by the top leaders of Sweden, Finland, and Turkey, Ankara dropped its objection.

According to Stoltenberg, Finland and Sweden have agreed to a “further amending their domestic legislation” to give Turkey the anti-terror reassurances it has sought, and would be “cracking down on PKK activities” and “entering into an agreement with Turkey on extradition.”

The decision on the Nordic pair will now be referred to the parliaments and legislatures of the NATO member states for final ratification. The process is, however, likely to move swiftly. The NATO chief said he was “absolutely confident” Finland and Sweden would become members quickly.
Elsewhere in his remarks on Wednesday, Stoltenberg said that NATO had been preparing for Russian aggression since 2014.

“The reality is that we also have been preparing for this since 2014 because that’s the reason why we have increased our presence in the eastern part of the alliance, why NATO allies have started to invest more in defense,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said that NATO was more relevant today “than it ever has been,” and that the alliance would be “strengthened in all directions across every domain — land, air and sea.”

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku