NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has sent a message to US Republicans who have made election promises to cut support for Ukraine: It will only give power to China.
Stoltenberg pushed his claims in an extensive interview with POLITICO this week. In it, the chief of the military alliance argued for a long-term US presence in Europe and a widespread increase in defense spending.
“The presence of Canada as well as the United States in Europe is essential to the strength and credibility of our transatlantic ties,” Stoltenberg said.
But fears run through the policy world that a more reticent America might be on the horizon. Upcoming U.S. midterm elections could transfer control of Congress to Republicans, with dominant, MAGA-friendly Republicans pressing to cut military aid to President Joe Biden’s world-leading Ukraine may empower cohorts of
Stoltenberg warned that Kyiv’s recent battlefield progress would not have been possible without the support of NATO allies. And he appealed to the stronger anti-China sentiment that permeates both major US political parties.
He said that a victorious Russia would be “bad for all of us in Europe and North America, and NATO as a whole, because it is not only Putin but China that will use brutal means to achieve their goals.” We have the military power to do it.”
However, Stoltenberg expressed optimism that the United States would not disappear from Europe or Ukraine anytime soon. Supports repeated requests.
“I am convinced,” said the NATO secretary general.
difficult decisions await
The bitter dispute is a troubling reality: Russia’s war in Ukraine looks likely to drag on for months as budgets tighten and the economy falters.
In Washington, the debate is heating up ahead of the November 8th election. Conservative choirs are also increasingly reluctant to spend large amounts on aid to Ukraine. Since the war began, the United States has pledged more than $17 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, well above what Europe has jointly pledged.
Stoltenberg said he was confident Washington would continue to support Ukraine. [Russian President Vladimir] If Putin wins in Ukraine, it will be a disaster for Ukrainians. ”
But he also emphasized its ties to China at a moment when Beijing comes to mind for many American policy makers.
The Biden administration recently described China as “America’s most important geopolitical challenge” in its National Security Strategy.
And the document explicitly ranks China above Russia in the long run: “Russia poses an imminent and continuing threat to the European regional security order, causing chaos worldwide.” and cause instability, but lack China’s full range of capabilities.”
Yet the clash of Russia’s long war in Ukraine, political pressures within the United States, and growing interest in Beijing have reinvigorated longstanding burden-sharing debates within NATO.
In 2014, NATO allies agreed to “aim” to spend 2% of their economic output on defense by 2024. Recognizing that deadline looms and military threats are only rising, leaders are grappling with what’s next. Will they raise their target numbers? Do they phrase their spending goals differently?
“We hope that at the summit in Vilnius next year, NATO allies will make a clear commitment to invest more in defense,” Stoltenberg said, adding, “We’re going to give the exact wording that NATO allies agree on.” It’s a little premature,” he said.
NATO allies themselves have taken different approaches to China, some adopting far more flexible policies than Washington.
Stoltenberg acknowledged these differences. But he argued that the alliance had made strides in its confrontation with Beijing, highlighting NATO’s decision to explicitly label China a challenger in its long-term strategy document earlier this summer.
“It is important that NATO allies come together and deal with the consequences of China’s rise, what we agree on, and that is exactly what we are doing,” he said.
But while the allies have agreed to “deal” with China’s rise, they do not know who should pay for the effort. Some US lawmakers, academics and experts advocate for Europe to lead the management of regional security challenges so that the US can focus more on the Indo-Pacific.
Daniel Hamilton, who served as a US State Department official during the 1990s wave of NATO expansion, calls it a “greater European strategic responsibility.” Hamilton, now a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University, said the approach would involve European allies providing “half of the forces and capabilities” needed for “deterrence and collective defense against Russia” within a decade. I added that it would.
Some experts argue that European allies are too content to rely on Washington.
“European NATO countries have over-promised and under-performed for decades,” says Harvard professor Stephen Walt, a leading expert on international affairs. Europeans “will not make sustained efforts to rebuild their defense capabilities if they can expect the United States to rush to their aid at the first sign of trouble,” he said.
Over the next decade, Walt added:
Stoltenberg opposed such a rigid division of labor.
Separating North America from Europe “is not a good model because it reduces the strength and credibility of the bond between North America and Europe.”
But he continued to increase defense spending, relying on NATO’s European allies (including most of the continent west of Russia if Finland and Sweden were admitted to join).
“I strongly believe that our European allies should do more,” he said, adding that they were “strongly pushing” the topic. “The good news is that all allies and European allies have increased and are now investing more.”
Yet simple math shows that Europe is nowhere near self-reliant in terms of defense.
“The reality is that 80% of NATO’s defense spending comes from non-EU allies,” Stoltenberg said. The Alliance’s sea-spanning, multi-continental layout “makes it clear that transatlantic ties are needed, and non-EU allies are needed to protect Europe.”
“But most of all, this is about politics. I don’t believe in Europe alone. I don’t believe in North America alone.”