Nato leaves Russia’s neighbours unclear over support

Nato leaves Russia’s neighbours unclear over support

Decisions made at the Wales Summit in the UK have put an end to Nato’s soul-searching. Its role as a backbone of transatlantic ties has been revalidated, writes Eka Tkeshelashvili.

In the dramatically changed security environment, the Nato alliance is getting back to basics – the recognition that it needs to maintain an unmatched supremacy of its military capabilities.

Decisions made at the summit held in September 2014 are testament to Nato's ability to adapt to a changing world.

However, it fell short of reassuring its readiness to evolve as a strategic player capable of shaping, rather than responding to, the new realities of global security.

The lack of readiness to assist Ukraine in a meaningful way, as well as maintaining ambiguity over when and how the decision on Georgia's membership could be settled, is nothing short of accepting the limitations imposed by an outside actor who has turned the security architecture of Europe upside down.

The final outcome of the summit will be judged by how effectively decisions made by the allies are implemented and the effects these will have on strengthening transatlantic security.

Nato partners in eastern Europe, who are outside the alliance’s membership, did not leave Wales empty handed. However, the alliance failed to strengthen their faith in Nato as they struggle to maintain sovereignty in Russia’s immediate neighbourhood.

The summit sent a clear message that no red lines apply to the countries outside the borders of the alliance.

Russia's attempts to consolidate its sphere of influence over the whole post-Soviet space is a cause for serious concern.

For Georgia, an aspirant country, the summit delivered mixed messages. It reaffirmed the decision taken in Bucharest in 2008 (and confirmed by subsequent summits) on Nato membership, however it left the ‘when and how’ issues ambiguous.

The summit declaration - issued at the end of the meeting - reflected Nato's position that enlargement is not part of the process of adapting to new security challenges. Some say that enlargement is an impediment to effectively meet these new challenges.

On a positive note, decisions related to an increased footfall of Nato on the ground and its assistance in improving Georgia's defence capabilities is a sign that the Alliance is ready to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable partners.

New opportunities for closer cooperation with Nato over defence, as well as broadened bilateral cooperation with member states, is extremely important for Georgia.

How quickly the summit’s conclusions can be implemented will be of key importance. US leadership will be needed to push through the recommendations.

A visit by US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, immediately after the Wales Summit was a positive signal.

The level and depth of cooperation with Nato and its member states will be decisive in determining whether or not Georgia will be given a chance to become a part of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture.

Nato’s support for Georgia in overcoming its security vulnerabilities and Georgia’s successful pursuit of membership will be seen by countries in Russia’s neighbourhood as a test of the alliance’s credibility as a real actor.

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