Defence and Security Committee Meeting Shines the Spotlight on Russian Military Modernisation and Western Balkans Security
02 September 2020
Video of the meeting can be found at the bottom of the page
While the coronavirus pandemic has been the most disruptive global event in decades, international security challenges have not faded in parallel. If anything, as NATO Parliamentarians confirmed in a meeting of the Defence and Security Committee (DSC), international security competition is rising and key challenges to peace and stability remain in NATO’s neighbourhood. Two recent DSC draft reports highlight important security issues currently focusing the minds of NATO parliamentarians – the growing challenge of Russian military modernisation and the remaining barriers to enduring peace and stability in the Western Balkans. These draft reports are authored by French senator Cédric Perrin and National Assembly member Jean-Charles Larsonneur respectively.
Both Russia and China are exploiting the pandemic to probe for soft spots as they seek to push their revisionist global agendas. Russia’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy has been the most visible and, to date, concerning for Allies. As Senator Perrin noted in his presentation, “Russia’s efforts at rapid military modernisation since 2010 have allowed Russian forces to serve as an increasingly capable hard power instrument to back up Russia’s aggression on the international stage.” He continued to warn committee members that: “Increased mobility, stealth, speed, and powerful and precise munitions have made today’s Russian military a far cry from what it was just over a decade ago.”
Perrin warned that Russian military modernisation, coupled with Russia’s increasing willingness to eschew international law, is already disrupting both Allies and partner security. In addition to dangerous brinkmanship with Allied forces along the Alliance’s eastern flank, Perrin highlighted the destructive role of Russian forces in key NATO partners like Ukraine and Georgia, both of whom are beset with ongoing conflicts and tensions.
To meet and overcome the Russian challenge, Perrin concluded, Allies must maintain the defence investment momentum they had gathered in the six years prior to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Such investments will permit Allies to maintain the innovative edge that has been instrumental to their success over the decades. Perrin recalled the spirit of Article 3 of the Washington Treaty, which calls upon Allies to act individually and together to develop the means to defend against potential adversaries: “In the face of Russia's goal to break the consensus among the Allies on the future of Euro-Atlantic security, we must work even harder to keep intact the strongest and most effective political-military alliance in history.”
DSC members also discussed Jean-Charles Larsonneur’s draft report on enduring challenges in the Western Balkans. “2020 has been a simultaneously encouraging and difficult year for the region. In March, the Alliance welcomed Northern Macedonia as its 30th member, demonstrating the hope and promise of NATO’s ‘open door’ policy. The progression of the coronavirus has, however, had an outsized impact on the region’s economies and societies, stretching already scarce resources to the limit,” Larsonneur told his colleagues.
“July also marked the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, perpetrated against thousands of innocent men, women and children, and to date, the worst massacre in Europe since the end of the Second World War. The commemoration of these tragic events is a sombre reminder of our duty to remain focused on enduring peace in the region,” Larsonneur reminded his colleagues.
While both NATO and the EU have played, and continue to play, vital roles in the region, “there are worrying signs of a trend towards economic and political regression,” Larsonneur said: “Economic stagnation and state capture by corrupt oligarchs undermine efforts to strengthen democracy, and persistent setbacks in the rule of law may exacerbate the security challenges facing the region.” Larsonneur’s report also highlights the challenges posed by illicit trafficking by criminal networks, and the ongoing risk of violent extremism due to entrenched ethnic and religious divisions.
“The combination of these factors has contributed to discouraging numbers of people leaving the region, particularly the younger and better educated, to seek a better life abroad,” Larsonneur noted.
Seeking to exploit vulnerabilities, both Russia and China are also focused on the region. “While Russia is still trying to sabotage the anchoring of the Euro-Atlantic institutions in the region,” he continued, “China sees the Western Balkans as an important arena to expand its strategic investments through the Belt and Road initiative.”
Larsonneur noted, however, that there are good reasons for Allies to remain positive: “The Euro-Atlantic community remains the most significant presence in the region…and Allies are increasing their investments at all levels.”
Also recalling the words of NATO’s founding document, Larsonneur concluded: “The Washington Treaty commits us to work to build a Euro-Atlantic area that promotes democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and a free exchange of ideas, people, and goods. These are values that underpin us and that all countries seeking membership should strive to live up to. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly has always worked closely with its peers in the region: we must continue this work to strengthen the region's economic, social and security capabilities, which alone will contribute to building a better future for all citizens of the region.”
2023 - UKRAINE'S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM & ALLIED AND GLOBAL RESPONSE TO RUSSIA'S WAR
Rick LARSEN (United States) - PRELIMINARY DRAFT SPECIAL REPORT
Russia’s war in Ukraine is the most violent and consequential war since the end of World War II. Its outcome will likely determine the shape of great power competition for the remainder of the 21st century.
This updated draft special…
2023 - TROUBLED WATERS – HOW RUSSIA’S WAR IN UKRAINE CHANGES BLACK SEA SECURITY
Lord Mark LANCASTER (United Kingdom) - PRELIMINARY DRAFT REPORT
The Black Sea is a strategic fault line between the NATO Alliance and Russia. Except for Türkiye, the region came into the post-Cold War era profoundly unsettled about the strategic direction of its littoral states. The region’s east-west split resulted in a series of…
2023 - ENSURING AN ALLIED DEFENCE INDUSTRIAL BASE FOR NATO’S NEW DETERRENCE AND DEFENCE BASELINE
Utku CAKIROZER (Türkiye) - PRELIMINARY DRAFT GENERAL REPORT
In the wake of Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion, NATO Allies have surged aid to Ukraine – pouring in all forms of vital assistance, including military, economic, humanitarian, political and diplomatic believing that Ukraine’s self-defence is legitimate and its…
2023 - SEA CHANGE: THE RAPID EVOLUTION OF BALTIC SECURITY AFTER RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE
Jeroen VAN WIJNGAARDEN (Netherlands) - PRELIMINARY DRAFT REPORT
Russia’s invasion unleashed the most violent and consequential conventional war on the European continent since World War II. The war sent immediate shockwaves that continue to resonate along the Alliance’s eastern flank, from the High North down to the Black and…
The rise of cyber operations - both below and above the threshold of war - raises significant questions about the future of Allied security, and of warfare more broadly. As NATO’s new Strategic Concept states: “Cyberspace is contested at all times.” The cyber challenge…
2022 - REPORT - THE EVOLVING TERRORIST THREAT: ADAPTING THE ALLIED RESPONSE
Jean-Charles LARSONNEUR (France) - REPORT
While Russia’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy, notably the unprovoked full invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, is the principal threat to Allied peace and security today, terrorism remains the main asymmetrical threat. Terrorism has been a key challenge for…
2022 - REPORT - RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE: IMPLICATIONS FOR ALLIED COLLECTIVE DEFENCE AND IMPERATIVES FOR THE NEW STRATEGIC CONCEPT
Cédric PERRIN (France) - GENERAL REPORT
Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine proves that it is not just a threat to, but an active spoiler of European security and stability. Russia, however, is not the only challenge to Euro-Atlantic security, which complicates a longer-term response to…
2022 - REPORT - UKRAINE'S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM & ALLIED AND GLOBAL RESPONSE TO RUSSIA'S WAR
Rick LARSEN (United States) - SPECIAL REPORT
Russia’s illegal and brutal military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 represents a tectonic shift in international affairs that will fundamentally affect the global security landscape. Ukraine stands at the frontline of the democratic world pushing back against…
2021 - REPORT - CHINA’S DEFENCE POSTURE: IMPLICATIONS FOR NATO
This report was adopted by the Defence and Security Committee at the Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Lisbon.
Beijing is investing in modern armed forces capable of defending China’s increasingly global …
2020 - REPORT - KEY CHALLENGES TO MAINTAINING PEACE AND SECURITY IN THE WESTERN BALKANS
Jean-Charles LARSONNEUR (France)
In the almost two decades since the end of the large-scale use of force to change the territorial political reality in the Western Balkans, much has been accomplished. The majority of the states of the former Yugoslavia are now firmly entrenched in the Euro-Atlantic…
2020 - REPORT - NATO’S ESSENTIAL ROLE IN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Attila MESTERHAZY (Hungary)
The Alliance reacted swiftly and effectively to do its part to mitigate the impact of the spreading coronavirus early in 2020. It continues to contribute to the fight that will lead to its ultimate defeat. To date, NATO has coordinated well over 350 missions to…
2020 - GENERAL REPORT - RUSSIAN MILITARY MODERNISATION: CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR NATO ALLIES
Cédric PERRIN (France)
Clear messaging from policy declarations and actions signal Moscow is doing its best to assert Russia’s power in a multipolar world. Increasing Russian national levers of power will permit Russia to counterbalance US power in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond. Understood in…
[...] Today, NATO’s DCB initiative is an integral part of the core of NATO’s cooperative security outreach with partners. The programme allows NATO Allies to focus on working very closely with select partners to make their defence institutions, forces and capabilities…
2018 - BURDEN SHARING: NEW COMMITMENTS IN A NEW ERA - 170 DSCTC 18 E rev 1 fin
Attila MESTERHAZY (Hungary)
NATO is implementing ambitious new adaptations to its defence and deterrence posture in response to a rapidly evolving international security environment. In parallel there is a rising expectation all NATO Allies must do more to invest in the success of these…
2018 - MISSION REPORT - DSC VISIT TO WASHINGTON DC AND CHARLESTON (USA)
US policymakers delivered a loud and clear message to a delegation from the Defence and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly: The United States is increasing its commitment to NATO, and it expects increased investments in parallel…
Coping with the complex security problems arising in the MENA region requires multi-faceted approaches for the simple reason that the challenges themselves are highly complex and resist simple solutions.
This was one of the central insights of a Joint Seminar of the NATO Parliamentary…
Special Report of the Defence and Security Committee [164 DSC 17 E bis]
In his February 9, 2017 testimony before the United States Congress, General John W. Nicholson, Jr., Commander of Resolute Support Mission (RSM) and of US Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A), told…
Report of the Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Defence and Security Cooperation [163 DSCTC 17 E rev.1 fin]
Efforts to strengthen the breadth and depth of NATO-EU cooperation have a long, relatively unfruitful…
2017 - SPACE DOMAIN AND ALLIED DEFENCE - DSCFC REPORT
Madeleine MOON (Royaume-Uni)
Report Title: The Space Domain and Allied DefenceActing Rapporteur: Madeleine MOON (United Kingdom)Year: 2017
Governments and private agencies continue to hone their abilities to utilise the space domain at a rapid pace. Long-range satellite…
2017 - BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENCE AND NATO - DAY REPORT - 161 DSC 17 E bis
Report Title: Ballistic Missile Defence and NATORapporteur: Joseph A. DAY (Canada)Year: 2017
Alongside conventional and nuclear capabilities, ballistic missile defence (BMD) is now considered a core NATO capability. The current framework for NATO BMD…