NATO PA wraps up Annual Session keen to bolster defence and deterrence, tighten pressure on Russia to end Ukraine war

21 November 2022

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly concluded four days of talks Monday focused on bolstering the Alliance´s deterrence and defence and pushing head on key NATO Summit security decisions against the backdrop of Russia´s illegal war on Ukraine

During the Assembly´s 68th Annual Session, held in the Spanish capital Madrid, almost 300 lawmakers from the 30 NATO Allies and partner countries debated and adopted six resolutions to complete the 2022 policy recommendations for the NATO governments.  

The resolutions are aimed at keeping the Alliance fit for purpose, implementing defence commitments made by leaders in Madrid in June, responding to the economic consequences of Russia´s war, cyber-security, the impact of climate change and fighting corruption. 

The issues formed part of a lengthy exchange between lawmakers and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. On top of that, the Assembly elected a new leadership team for the next year, and its five Committees also discussed 16 draft reports

In an address via video-link, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on all parliaments to recognise Russia as a terrorist state, and NATO PA lawmakers passed a call to urge Allied governments to “state clearly that the Russian state under the current regime is a terrorist one”. 

In their resolutions, the legislators urged the Allies to move quickly on the Madrid Summit aims to ensure “the modernisation of the NATO Force Structure, thereby boosting the Alliance’s overall presence on the eastern flank.” 

They said NATO governments should “increase military, intelligence, financial, training and humanitarian support to Ukraine, including by accelerating deliveries of the weapons that Ukraine needs to protect itself and to restore its territorial integrity.” 

That support, they insisted, must be sustained “for as long as it takes for Ukraine to prevail.” 

Stoltenberg said NATO has already made the biggest reinforcement of its collective defence since the Cold War, with more troops, ships and aircraft on higher readiness, but he said that bigger budgets are needed, especially to continue support to Ukraine. 

“To do all this, we need to invest more in defence,” Stoltenberg said during Monday´s Plenary Session. NATO member countries pledged in 2014 to halt defence spending cuts and move toward spending 2% of GDP on their military budgets within a decade. 

“I expect Allies to continue making progress, including with commitments beyond 2024, because 2% of GDP on defence should be considered a floor, not a ceiling for our defence investments,” Stoltenberg said. 

A NATO PA resolution, drawn up by UK MP Harriet Baldwin, weighed other costs, calling for Allied nations to help Ukraine better protect its civilian infrastructure as Russia has stepped up its deliberate attacks. 

The parliamentarians appealed for the launch of a Marshall Plan-like aid programme to rebuild a more prosperous Ukraine with high democratic standards. Russia, they say, should help to fund the scheme given the damage it has inflicted. 

The resolution also urged national governments to tighten economic sanctions against Russia and end their reliance on its energy supplies to punish Moscow but also to drive investment in renewable sources. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose country is marking 40 years of NATO membership, laid out the case for continued support to Ukraine and the importance of ensuring that Russian President Vladimir Putin pays the costs of launching the war. 

“Putin has provoked an attack on the stability and security of Europe,” Sanchez said. “Passivity is not an option.” Spain, he said, is contributing 270 million euros in aid, has provided anti-missile systems and materiel, and will begin training Ukrainian troops in coming weeks. 

“This moment is essential in the history of the Atlantic alliance,” Sanchez said as he urged other Allies to keep up the support. He underlined, however, that “NATO is not against the Russian people, it is against the autocracy of Vladimir Putin.” 

Separate resolutions focused on strengthening the cyber-resilience of Allied societies, but also on the need to provide help to Ukraine, the impact of global warming on security and NATO planning and operations, and the need to intensify domestic and international efforts to fight corruption as Putin and other authoritarians use graft to subvert governments and democracy. 
During the Session, French Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam was elected President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly for the next year. She succeeds outgoing President, US Congressman Gerald E. Connolly

In selecting its leadership team, the Assembly also elected five Vice-Presidents on Monday: Zaida Cantera from Spain; Nicu Falcoi from Romania; Kevan Jones from the United Kingdom; Linda Sánchez from the United States; and Michał Szczerba from Poland. 

Outgoing President Connolly stressed that Russia’s war on Ukraine has given added urgency to the Assembly’s call for NATO to establish a Centre for Democratic Resilience at Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. 

The Centre, Connolly said, would address “a defining issue of our time.” He said that “After 73 years of existence, we believe it is time that NATO establish architecture – concrete architecture – dedicated to the advancement of democracy.” 

The Plenary Session also saw Ms Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, officially bestowed with the second annual “Women for Peace and Security” award.   

Stefanishyna thanked the Assembly and insisted  that she was accepting “this award on behalf of all Ukrainian women who are making every possible effort to protect their country, their families, lives and everything we believe in from Russian invaders.” 

President of the Senate Ander Gil and President of the Congress of Deputies Meritxell Batet joined the other high-level officials in addressing the NATO PA plenary session. 

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is a unique forum for members of parliament from across the Atlantic Alliance to discuss and influence decisions on Alliance security. While independent from NATO, the Assembly is an essential link between NATO and the parliaments as well as citizens of the NATO nations. It provides greater transparency of NATO policies and fosters better understanding of the Alliance’s objectives and missions among legislators and citizens of the Alliance.