On 8-9 July, the 27th summit of the Heads of State and Government of NATO was held in Warsaw, Poland. It was a continuation of the North Atlantic Alliance’s adaptation process started two years earlier, strengthening collective deterrence and defence capabilities in Europe in response to the new and evolving security environment and challenges that emerged following the occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and Russia’s covert war in eastern Ukraine. The summit agenda included four main items: (1) strengthening of the Alliance’s collective defence and deterrence policy; (2) the Alliance’s response to the challenges coming from the east (including the future relationship with Russia); (3) NATO’s engagement in the resolution of challenges from the south; and (4) NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
For Latvia, the most important decisions made at the Warsaw summit were those related to the enhancement of the NATO presence in those NATO member countries located in the east of the Alliance.
At the Warsaw Summit, it was announced that Canada will assume the role of the framework nation in NATO’s multinational battalion-sized battle group, and its deployment will discourage Russian aggression and reinforce collective defence. Other Allies will also be sending their troops and equipment to Latvia (and these decisions will be announced at the NATO Defence Ministers’ Meeting in October following consultations with the framework nation and host countries). Other framework nations for the multinational forces comprising the enhanced forward presence were also announced at the Warsaw Summit: the UK will lead the battalion-sized battlegroup in Estonia; Germany is the framework nation in Lithuania; and the United States is framework nation for the battlegroup in Poland. NATO Defence Ministers first decided to deploy four multinational battalions in the Baltic States and Poland on 14-15 June. The Warsaw Summit confirmed their decision, and the Alliance’s unity on this matter, at the highest level.
In reinforcing collective defence, the Alliance jointly confirmed its readiness to protect and defend any Ally against all types of security challenges from both the east and the south, and against both conventional and asymmetric threats. In addition, Heads of State and Government agreed to strengthen the Alliance’s resilience against hybrid threats and again affirmed NATO’s readiness to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty in response to hybrid threats.
Cyberspace was recognised as a domain of operations in which NATO must defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea, and the Alliance will ensure that it is equipped to counter cyber threats more successfully in future crisis management operations.
During the summit meeting, an announcement was also made on NATO’s ballistic missile defence capabilities in Europe, noting the achievement of NATO BMD Initial Operational Readiness, further strengthening defence against potential threats emanating from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.
Alongside the reinforcement of the policy of deterrence, leaders reaffirmed that NATO remains open to a political dialogue with Russia. In this context, a NATO-Russia Council meeting took place on 13 July to discuss mutual transparency of the policies being pursued by the Alliance and Russia, and to discuss the security situation in Ukraine and Afghanistan. As Russia’s neighbour, it is vital for Latvia to keep a balance between the collective defence and deterrence measures implemented by the Alliance and a constructive dialogue and positive relationship with Russia in the longer term.
NATO leaders also discussed the security challenges in the south of the Alliance. Heads of State and Government agreed, inter alia, to strengthen NATO’s role in addressing the risks posed by irregular migration in the Mediterranean, as well as to provide practical support in countering ISIL/Da’esh. During the summit, Latvia noted the importance of solidarity and unity across the Alliance, and supported the need to reinforce not only the Alliance’s eastern flank, as well as the need to join forces in tackling the root causes of the ongoing uncontrolled flows of migration and in combatting terrorism.
With regard to Afghanistan, the Heads of State and Government of NATO reaffirmed the commitment to ensure long-term security and stability in Afghanistan, to maintain the presence of the Resolute Support mission in the country beyond 2016, and to continue to make national contributions to the financial sustainment of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. Latvia pledged to extend the USD 500,000 per year financial support it is making to Afghanistan from 2018 to 2020.
Latvia highly appreciates the joint Declaration of NATO and the EU leaders which was made at the summit, and the determination to strengthen future political and practical cooperation between both institutions in the area of cyber security, prevention of hybrid threats, maritime security, strengthening of the defence capabilities of third countries, as well as in the organisation of joint training and education.
During the summit, President Raimonds Vējonis took part in the NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting. Participants discussed the current security situation in Ukraine, expressed their support for the reforms implemented by Ukraine, and approved NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine.1
The first joint meeting of the NATO-Georgia Commission in Warsaw was held at the level of Foreign Ministers. The Ministers reiterated the Alliance’s political and practical support for Georgia and agreed to intensify cooperation.
In a separate working session, NATO Foreign Ministers met with the Foreign Ministers of Enhanced Opportunities Partner countries (Finland, Sweden, Georgia, Jordan, Australia), and with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, to discuss potential joint response measures to the current security challenges in the south and east of the Alliance.
In a meeting with those partners taking part in international operations, NATO Defence Ministers discussed the practical issues concerning the implementation of reinforced deterrence and collective defence measures.
At the NATO summit in Warsaw, Latvia was represented by President Raimonds Vējonis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, and the Minister of Defence, Raimonds Bergmanis. In the course of the summit, Latvian leaders had separate bilateral meetings with their colleagues from Canada, Poland, France, Turkey, Spain, Norway, Moldova, and Macedonia.
1The purpose of the programme is to provide support for increasing the effectiveness and accountability of Ukraine’s defence and security sector institutions.