News / Europe

NATO Leaders Meet Amid Array of Crises

Security fencing and police outside Cardiff Castle ahead of the UK-based NATO summit, in Cardiff, Wales, Sept. 3, 2014.
Security fencing and police outside Cardiff Castle ahead of the UK-based NATO summit, in Cardiff, Wales, Sept. 3, 2014.
Al Pessin

The 28 NATO leaders are gathering in Wales, in western Britain, for their first summit in two years, amid a new and challenging array of crises.
 
In 2012 in Chicago, they focused on Afghanistan, and continued the decades-long process of redefining the alliance for the post-Cold War world. They discussed issues like nuclear weapons proliferation, extremist violence, the Syrian civil war and missile defense.  
 
But the threats were distant or theoretical, leaving NATO to struggle to articulate a compelling mission, and to convince its own people to spend more on defense.
 
This summit “will take place in a changed world,” according to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
 
Ukraine, Islamic State


NATO is being challenged by Russia in Ukraine and by the newly prominent Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria. Leaders are also concerned about the Ebola outbreak in Africa, China’s increased assertiveness in Asian border disputes, and fallout from the Syrian civil war, in addition to all of the less urgent issues of two years ago.
 
The problem, experts say, is that the world’s strongest military bloc finds itself unable to address any of those issues decisively.
 
“There isn’t a whole lot that NATO can do about this push-back by Putin,” said former British official Nick Witney, now at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Maybe we in the West should console ourselves that before Putin started pushing back, we have, over the last two decades, pushed Russia a hell of a long way in the other direction.”
 
Indeed, NATO has absorbed all the former Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe. But Russian President Vladimir Putin is drawing the line when it comes to actual former members of the Soviet Union, like Georgia and Ukraine.
 
To stop Ukraine from moving to join the European Union, and ensure it never joins NATO, Putin annexed Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine in support of a separatist rebellion he instigated. Since Ukraine is not a NATO member, the alliance has no obligation to help, and no wish to get into a war with Russia.
 
“[Russia] is not going to let go of its ability to influence events in Ukraine, and there frankly isn’t a whole lot we can do about it,” Witney said.
 
Summit agenda

Instead, NATO is planning a series of steps - to be formalized at the summit - to demonstrate its support for its relatively new eastern members and to improve its ability to respond quickly if Russia moves against any of them. That will involve creating a quickly deployable force, and stationing supplies and some personnel on bases near its eastern borders.
 
“We are faced with the reality that Russia considers us an adversary, and we will adapt to that situation,” Rasmussen said at a pre-summit news conference.
 
Regarding the Islamic State, which threatens the stability of Iraq and has been brutalizing non-Sunni Muslims in areas it controls, “specifics ... are going to be very hard to deliver,” said Robin Niblett, the director of London’s Chatham House.
 
The United States has been bombing Islamic State fighters, to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting them on the ground. And U.S. and other allied military aircraft have dropped relief supplies for trapped and besieged civilians. But it is not a NATO mission and is not expected to become one.
 
The summit is expected to call for more steps to fight the spread of extremism and to support Iraq’s new government, which is now being formed, but not much more.
 
Afghanistan

The leaders will also review progress toward ending the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of this year, and deploying several thousand trainers and advisers. But that can’t happen until Afghanistan’s new president signs an agreement on the status of the new force, and a controversial recount of ballots is still in progress.
 
As always, NATO leaders will agree on various moves to try to increase the alliance’s military capability, to enable their forces to work together and to confront threats like missile proliferation and cyber attacks.
 
But Robin Niblett says the Ukraine and Iraq crises may have provided the leaders with a theme to tie such issues together, and to get the attention of their people.
 
“It is a critical summit,” he said. “It was all theoretical ... the world was not perceived to be as dangerous a place to the West as it has turned out to be.  This is a summit in which all NATO members and their partners need to step up and start to communicate to themselves and externally and to their publics - this is a dangerous world and there is a purpose to this alliance.”

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (1)
Comments
     
by: John from: USA
September 03, 2014 3:53 PM
Why can't NATO simply quit antagonizing Russia?

NATO under direction of the US has squandered the greatest existing chance for a fully peaceful Europe by insisting that the states formely within the Soviet sphere of influence once again become aligned. A truly monumental lack of vision and failure of leadership which will continue to have bad consequences.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid