NATO PA backs drive to bolster Alliance Defence and Deterrence

07 October 2023

Legislators from NATO nations on Saturday greenlighted an array of policy recommendations to underpin the drive to bolster Alliance deterrence and defence capacity in the wake of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia’s war in Ukraine has served as a wake-up call for the Alliance. We can no longer underinvest in our collective security and in the security of our partners,” Turkish lawmaker Utku Cakirozer told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

“In an era of strategic competition and challenges from authoritarian actors, our defence industries can no longer remain fragmented and uncoordinated,” he said. “We must work together, both our governments and our private sectors, to ensure NATO has the tools it needs to defend the Alliance.”

The Annual Session of the NATO PA, held this year in Copenhagen, is set to adopt recommendations for Alliance policy makers in areas ranging from supporting NATO’s new deterrence and defence baseline and strengthening defences around the Black Sea; to harnessing the military potential of robotics and other new technologies; and enhancing protection of critical maritime infrastructure.

“Protection of critical maritime infrastructure, such as undersea communication and energy cables, as well as offshore wind farms, drilling rigs and pipelines, is essential to ensure the uninterrupted flow of goods, energy and information,” says a Resolution adopted in the Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee (STC), which will go to the Plenary Sitting on Monday.

Drafted by Icelandic lawmaker Njall Trausti Fridbertsson, the Resolution urges NATO governments to redouble efforts to protect maritime infrastructure, and strengthen collaboration by improving intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities for “enabling vehicle tracking, threat detection, communication, and strategic planning.”

Government ministers, senior NATO officials and other experts briefed the lawmakers on the fast-moving security situation.

“The Alliance is facing its most profound threats and challenges since the end of the Cold War, but I’m also reassured by the reaction to Russia’s aggressive war,” Danish Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen, told the Defence and Security Committee (DSC). “We have taken historic decisions to bolster NATO’s collective deterrence and defence ...We need to be crystal clear: we are ready and capable to defend every inch of Allied territory.”

Responding to the urgency of ensuring that NATO meets hardware requirements both to support Ukraine and underpin the Alliance’s defence and deterrence baseline, lawmakers backed recommendations in Cakirozer’s report calling on the governments to increase defence spending; expand ammunition stockpiles; improve auditing of military hardware; and boost cross-border cooperation in defence production and purchasing.

“The military aid NATO Allies have provided (to Ukraine) has revealed a growing strategic challenge,” said the report adopted by the DSC. “A clear lesson from Russia’s war in Ukraine is that NATO Allies must rebuild their defence industrial bases.”

Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has also highlighted the strategic significance of the Black Sea and necessitates greater NATO involvement in the region, concludes a report drafted by Lord Mark Lancaster from the United Kingdom.

Alongside increased support for Ukraine’s coastal defences, NATO should strengthen its naval presence in the Black Sea; improve regional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; and develop long-range precision strike capabilities, improved coastal defence systems and new layered air and missile defences, the report recommends.

NATO also needs to invest to maintain its technological edge. The STC adopted reports that urged Allies to develop strategies for research, investment and application of novel materials and additive manufacturing (3D printing) for defence and security purposes as well as increasing research and deployment of Robotic and Autonomous Systems for the military.

“Novel Materials are essential for the progress of science and technology while additive manufacturing produces faster solutions by facilitating more rapid integration of new technologies”, stresses a report by Luxembourg member Sven Clement.

“Uncrewed and autonomous systems are already becoming more important for military forces worldwide,” noted another drafted by German lawmaker Joe Weingarten. “The impact of uncrewed systems in Russia’s war against Ukraine shows the importance of autonomous systems, especially drone warfare, on the battlefield.”

Beyond the immediate need to adapt the Alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, lawmakers also discussed a wide range of challenges, from the security implications of climate change to the impact of landmines on development assistance, and China’s geopolitical role.

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