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NATO Summit Stirs Up Global Security Concern Amidst Internal Rifts

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The two-day Vilnius Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) concluded here on Wednesday amid divisions among members and criticism from the international community.

During the summit, Türkiye green-lighted Sweden’s accession to the military bloc, and NATO adopted its “most comprehensive defense plan since the end of the Cold War,” while pledging to provide more long-term support to Ukraine. Though a regional alliance between Europe and North America, NATO once again invited some leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to attend the summit.

However, the United States’ increasingly evident efforts to strengthen its control over Europe through NATO and to pressure Russia have raised concerns. Observers fear NATO’s attempt to break through its North Atlantic geographical positioning and interfere in Asia-Pacific security might lead to more international and regional instability.

UPENDING EUROPE’S SECURITY

According to its communique released at the end of the summit, NATO has implemented a new generation of regional defense plans, which build upon the existing strategic and domain-specific plans. The objective of these new plans is to have 300,000 troops fully prepared for action. The communique also welcomed “ongoing efforts by Allies to increase their presence on NATO’s Eastern Flank,” and the NATO members have committed to investing a minimum of 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) annually in defense, demonstrating a lasting dedication to defense spending.

Analysts caution that NATO’s expansion and its responses to the Russia-Ukraine issue could potentially jeopardize global security by triggering significant socioeconomic and political transformations.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said on Tuesday that the increase in military assistance to Ukraine by NATO was bringing World War III closer.

Critics also argue that the existence and influence of NATO may undermine the non-aligned and neutral status of certain countries. They contend that NATO membership restricts the foreign policy options and independence of states that prefer to maintain a neutral position in international conflicts.

Jan Oberg, director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, expressed concerns over Sweden’s NATO membership, asserting that Sweden, instead of remaining an important non-aligned buffer zone that has kept it out of war for 200 years, may become directly involved in conflicts.

“Sweden will lose even more of its independent foreign policy and will have to spend horrendous sums on adapting to NATO,” he added.

Jochen Scholz, a former professional officer of the German Luftwaffe, told Xinhua that the threat from Russia is nonexistent and is merely a facade for NATO’s function as an instrument for maintaining U.S. dominance. Scholz believes that it is crucial for Europeans to recognize this.

Oberg warned that if NATO emerges victorious in this scenario after being the principal creator of “the most dangerous and unpredictable security environment since the Cold War,” the rest of the world will likely approach an “eschatological moment.”

INTERFERENCE IN ASIA-PACIFIC

In an explicit move to meddle in the regional affairs of the Asia-Pacific, NATO again invited leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, the so-called “partners” in the Asia-Pacific region, to attend its summit for the second time and vowed to “further strengthen dialogue and cooperation to tackle our shared security challenges,” according to the communique.

Welcoming the Asian “partners” to the North Atlantic Council meeting on Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated “NATO is a regional alliance between Europe and North America, but the challenges we face are global, and our security is interconnected. What happens in the Euro-Atlantic region matters for the Indo-Pacific, and what happens in the Indo-Pacific matters to the Euro-Atlantic.”

However, NATO leaders sent mixed signals. French President Emmanuel Macron told a press conference at the end of the summit that NATO should keep its focus on the North Atlantic region.

“It remains a North Atlantic Treaty Organization and, whatever they say, geography is stubborn: the Indo-Pacific is not the North Atlantic. We do not want it to look like NATO is creating legitimacy to be present geographically in other regions,” said Macron.

Oberg expressed concerns about NATO’s outreach beyond its original scope. He pointed out that NATO’s founding treaty does not include provisions for establishing offices outside its Atlantic mandate, and highlighted that Japan is not a NATO member. Oberg criticized NATO’s decision to create a new category of “partners” without any reference in the treaty.

Commenting on the situation, Scholz said that he hopes the Asian states, including Japan, would recognize that they “are to be abused to contain China in order to maintain U.S. global dominance.”

In the communique, the military bloc mentioned China 15 times, saying that “China’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values” and that China posed “systemic challenges” to the alliance.

In response, China on Wednesday rejected such claims. “What’s said in the NATO communique is a complete opposite of the truth and the product of Cold War mentality and ideological bias. China strongly opposes it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a daily press briefing.

“We urge NATO to stop making groundless accusations and provocative rhetoric targeting China, quit the outdated Cold War mentality, and ditch the wrongdoing of seeking absolute security. We have seen what NATO has done to Europe, and NATO must not seek to sow chaos here in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere in the world,” he added.

EXTENDED U.S. ARM

During the two-day summit, despite the recurring mentions of “working together” in the communique, a number of disagreements surfaced, including divided perspectives on Ukraine’s membership, the selection of a NATO secretary general and the supply of cluster bombs to Ukraine.

Analysts have observed a notable inconsistency in NATO’s position regarding support for Ukraine. While certain Eastern European member states advocate for a definitive commitment on Ukraine’s timeline for joining NATO, the United States and Germany show reluctance to go beyond their previous promise that Ukraine will eventually become a member.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has called NATO’s failure to set a timetable for his country’s membership “unprecedented and absurd.”

Spanish expert Pere Ortega commented that as long as NATO exists, attaining peace in Europe will remain elusive due to the alliance’s inability to curtail U.S. military intervention.

“The United States has benefited from the armed conflicts in Ukraine, so it hopes that the conflicts in Ukraine will continue,” Croatian political analyst Mladen Plese said.

“The NATO summit, dominated by the United States, will not contribute to a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, as evidenced by the U.S. decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine,” Plese said. “NATO has been dominated by the United States, and it will inevitably become an extended arm of the United States and a tool for the United States, and the future of NATO will therefore be questioned. ”

According to Plese, the only viable solution to the Ukrainian crisis necessitates the gathering of all relevant parties around the negotiating table to engage in meaningful dialogue. Enditem

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