The Guardian view on the Nato summit: new roles for old | Editorial

The Guardian view on the Nato summit: new roles for old | Editorial

The cold war military alliance has been revived as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the words are not yet matched by the deeds

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization sometimes looked like an alliance in search of a purpose. After this week’s Nato summit in Madrid, that charge is harder to sustain. Nato provided the structure for emergency western efforts to support Ukraine following Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February. Four months on, the alliance has now put that on a more long-term footing, with major financial, strategic and regional consequences. Yet important uncertainties still remain.

Nato’s repurposing has four elements. The first is strategic – recognising that attempts to form a cooperative relationship with Russia have ended for the foreseeable future, and that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inexcusable in itself, also marks a wider confrontation with the west. The second is the reversal of the post-1989 era of declining defence budgets. This has now been replaced by an expanded deterrence marked by aid to Ukraine, higher military spending for the coming decade and a sevenfold increase in the number of Nato troops on high alert to reach 300,000.

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