NATO leaders ended a two-day summit in Madrid after changing the strategic concept for the alliance, inviting Sweden and Finland to join, and agreeing to do all it takes to support Ukraine in opposing an unprovoked Russian invasion.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at the conclusion of the summit that it was truly transformational.
President Joe Biden attended the meeting and re-emphasized the U.S. is committed to defending every inch of NATO territory.
For the first time, NATO’s strategic concept addressed the challenges emanating from China, Stoltenberg said. “We agreed to deepen our relationships with some of the alliance’s closest partners, not least in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Alliance members also agreed to an innovation fund of 1 billion euros that aims to keep military capabilities at the forefront of technology. The alliance members also agreed to increase NATO’s common-funded budgets.
But not all threats come from Russia or China, and the final session at the summit addressed challenges from the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel region of Africa. “Insecurity in these regions has a direct impact on the security of all allies,” Stoltenberg said. “And our new strategic concept identifies terrorism as one of the main threats to our security.”
The heads of state and government reviewed NATO’s progress in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the secretary general said. “We reconfirmed our commitment to continue the fight with determination and solidarity, including through intelligence sharing and support for our partners,” he said.
He noted that NATO’s training mission in Iraq continues to help prevent the return of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Farther afield, the alliance agreed to a defense capacity-building package for Mauritania, which will help that struggling nation address border security, irregular migration and terrorism.
The alliance will also continue its long partnership with Tunisia and Jordan.
The alliance members addressed the looming global food crisis. This is a Vladimir Putin-made crisis that will affect some of the most vulnerable people in the world, the secretary general said. “Food prices are hitting record highs, and many countries depend on Ukraine for substantial wheat and other food imports,” he said. “So, allies discussed their efforts to mitigate the crisis and get grain out of Ukraine by land and on sea.”
Russia and China continue to seek political, economic and military gains through the nations in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. “Both Moscow and Beijing are using economic leverage, coercion and hybrid approaches to advance their interests in the region,” he said. “We discussed how to address this growing challenge, including with even more support for NATO’s partners in the region.”
While the threats and challenges are real, so is the unity expressed by all leaders of the alliance, he said. “We are rising to the challenge with unity and resolve,” Stoltenberg said. ‘The decisions we have taken in Madrid will ensure that our alliance continues to preserve peace, prevent conflict and protect our people and our values.”
NATO’s 2023 summit will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania.