NATO In Asia India Japan : Know Why NATO Is Getting Closer To Asia Pacific India Japan South Korea May Reason To Worry For China


Sydney : Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, NATO meetings and summits have received much more attention than in previous years. There are a number of big issues on the agenda for the summit, which begins on Tuesday in Vilnius, Lithuania. The most pressing issue, of course, is NATO’s future military support to Ukraine in its ongoing war against Russia, especially in the wake of reports of delays in arms deliveries and the controversial US decision to send cluster munitions to Ukrainians. The allies will also discuss Ukraine’s possible membership in the grouping. Ukraine is seeking an invitation and a roadmap to eventually join NATO, which is opposed by the US and Germany in particular, as an active war is underway. Is. The members will also agree on the first major changes to NATO’s military plans since the Cold War and an increase in their individual defense spending. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expecting a commitment from all 31 members to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense, something that a decade ago was considered an aspiration rather than a baseline.

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NATO’s interest in the Asia-Pacific

Other invitees receiving considerable attention include four Asia-Pacific leaders, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yun Suk Yeol. Following last year’s NATO summit in Madrid, all four will be present for the second year in a row. While NATO’s efforts to expand into the Asia-Pacific region are still in their early stages, they have received some criticism in recent times. Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating called Stoltenberg a ‘supreme fool’ for promoting the bloc’s ties with the region. And French President Emmanuel Macron is reportedly opposed to opening a proposed NATO liaison office in Tokyo. Since NATO is focusing so much on Ukraine at the moment, its interest in one region around the world raises some questions.

Why are Asian countries joining?

Why are these four leaders regularly attending summits of European and North American countries? First, these countries have been one of the most prominent members of the international coalition supporting Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia. Therefore, his presence at the security conference where Ukraine will be discussed is understandable. More importantly, however, the Indo-Pacific region figures prominently in NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept, a key document that outlines the alliance’s values, purpose and role. The document last year referred to China’s ambitions and policies for the first time as a major challenge to NATO’s security, interests and values.

It also specifically addressed the growing cooperation between China and Russia, which NATO sees as a threat to the established rules-based international order. As such, the strategic concept described the Indo-Pacific as ‘important to NATO, given that developments in that region could directly affect Euro-Atlantic security’. This makes a clear case for NATO to strengthen its existing partnerships in the region and develop new ones.

What will these new partnerships look like?

Policy analysts have debated the merits and consequences of this expanded level of cooperation. But despite hesitation among some commentators, the four Asia-Pacific countries generally want to move forward in expanding their cooperation with NATO. Indeed, if the Madrid summit served as an opportunity for the four Indo-Pacific partners to demonstrate their support for Ukraine and pledge a strong commitment to future cooperation with NATO, the Vilnius summit was It will act as a benchmark to assess the progress to be made in this direction.

That is why, in the lead up to the summit, NATO is working to formalize its partnership with the four countries. Japan and Australia have been at the forefront of these efforts. Japanese media reported last week that Tokyo and Canberra had completed talks with NATO on a new agreement called the ‘Individually Customized Partnership Program (ITPP)’. The program specifies key areas of cooperation between each country and the NATO bloc. New Zealand and South Korea are also working to finalize their individual agreements with the alliance.

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What is the basis of new partnerships?

The partnerships will largely focus on areas of global concern, such as maritime security, cyber security, climate change, outer space and emerging and disruptive technologies (including AI). And from a defense perspective, NATO and the four partners will aim to improve the ‘interoperability’ of their forces – the ability of different military forces and defense systems to effectively work together and coordinate their actions. This could include deepening knowledge about each other’s military assets, improving relations between their troops and other military personnel, and expanding joint exercises.

(Gorana Grigić, Senior Lecturer, Department of Governmental and International Relations and the Center for American Studies, University of Sydney)

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