NATO, EU Enhance Ties with Eye on Russia, China

by | Jan 10, 2023

NATO, EU Enhance Ties with Eye on Russia, China

by | Jan 10, 2023

nato secretary general meeting with the president of the european council and the president of the european commission

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen following the signing of the Joint Declaration on NATO-EU Cooperation

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union announced a new cooperation pact on Tuesday. The chief of the EU said the agreement was made to counter threats from Russia and China. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained the pact will take the relationship between the two bodies “to the next level.” 

NATO and the EU share 21 common members. The US, UK, Canada, Iceland and Norway are members of NATO but not the EU. Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Turkey are NATO members that have applied to join the EU. Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Finland and Sweden are members of the EU, but not NATO. 

Helsinki and Stockholm have applied to join NATO, but Sweden is struggling to overcome its differences with Turkey. Unless Anakara consents to Stockholm and Helsinki joining the alliance, the two Nordic states will be denied entrance. At Tuesday’s press conference, Stoltenberg claimed Sweden and Finland would join NATO and strengthen the alliance. “[The NATO-EU partnership] will become even more important once Finland and Sweden become full NATO members,” he said. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen claimed the joint pact was needed to take on Russia and China, asserting “[t]he Russian threats and challenges are the most immediate, but they are not the only ones.” She added, “we also witness China increasingly attempting to reshape the international order to its benefit.

NATO members and European countries have increasingly participated in US military operations in the waters surrounding China. In December 2021, a German warship entered waters claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea. It was the first time Berlin conducted a military operation in the region in nearly 20 years. 

European Council President Charles Michel proclaimed the pact would be seen as a provocation by Moscow. “NATO has reinforced its presence in Eastern Europe and it will have two new members: Sweden and Finland.” He continued, “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin wanted less NATO, but he has achieved the opposite. He will have more NATO and he will have more EU.”

The Kremlin has said it does not object to the Nordic states joining the Brussles-based alliance. However, Putin has sharply rejected NATO membership for Kiev. Moscow issued several statements in the leadup to its invasion of Ukraine warning Washington was crossing Russian redlines by making Kiev a de facto member. 

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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