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CEPA: US-led NATO in Europe facing 'unprecedented' twin threat from Russia, China

NATO and Estonian flags.
NATO and Estonian flags. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Think-tank the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) has unveiled a comprehensive report in which it envisions the future of NATO, European security, transatlantic relations and the world order, in the wake of Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine, now in its 22nd month.

The report underscores that deterrence has failed in the European theater, while the US-led alliance in Europe is now facing unprecedented concurrent threats from Russian imperialism and the rise of China.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, has sparked the most serious crisis in Europe since World War Two and has shattered the post-Cold War international order, the piece argues.

The piece is authored by  CEPA President and CEO Dr. Alina Polyakova, noted UK journalist and Senior Adviser and Senior Fellow Edward Lucas, Senior Fellow Mathieu Boulègue, Director, Transatlantic Defense and Security at CEPA Catherine Sendak, Distinguished Fellow Lt Gen. (Ret.) Scott Kindsvater, and CEPA staffers Ivanna Kuz and Sasha Stone.

The CEPA authors note that, however, from crisis comes opportunity.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has served to unify the transatlantic alliance and its partners — the transatlantic community is stronger than ever, and NATO's core mission is, and remains, collective defense in Europe.

The war has revolutionized NATO's military strategy, moving the organization to a more capable, combat-ready alliance and toward deterrence by denial. It has also shifted the balance of power in Europe in an easterly direction, ushering in the beginning of a strategic realignment, the article states.

A simple truth has emerged since February 2022: the future of the transatlantic alliance rests on the future of Ukraine. The equation is simple. Europe is not secure if Ukraine is not secure, and the US is not secure if Europe is not secure. Failure in Ukraine is not an option for the US and its allies, CEPA says.

Since the US and Ukraine's allies and partners are contemplating options for Ukraine's long-term security, however, the bottom line is that the only lasting security guarantee for Ukraine and Europe is Ukraine's membership of NATO.

This would, it is argued, strengthen the alliance, improve its deterrence, and boost capabilities.

The year-long study lays out a comprehensive vision and blueprint for Europe's security architecture anchored in eight core strategic tenets plus dozens of specific and concrete recommendations.

The eight core strategic tenets are:

  1. Ukraine's long-term security is the lynchpin of transatlantic security.
  2. Europe's security architecture will not be complete without the integration of so-called gray zones in Europe.
  3. The power balance in Europe has shifted eastwards, necessitating the modernization of NATO's defensive posture and including a permanent presence on the eastern flank.
  4. NATO's commitment to deterrence by denial requires a sustained and coordinated defense "industrial revolution" among members states.
  5. Failure in Ukraine would signal the end of US global leadership with profound and disastrous implications for US deterrence of China. In short, the best way to deter China is by defeating Russia, in Ukraine.
  6. Russia's strategic posture of aggression is unlikely to change in the near or indeed longer term. Post-Ukraine War Russian leadership would not rule out military confrontation with NATO.
  7. NATO's core mission must be to deter Russia in Europe.
  8. Countries of the "Global South" will play a key role in determining the future of geostrategic competition.

The full CEPA report is here.

CEPA states on its website that its main aims include fostering a strong and enduring transatlantic alliance, one which is rooted in democratic values, and to build networks of future leaders well-versed in Atlanticism.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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