Russia’s war in Ukraine, future defence capabilities at the heart of Defence and Security Committee’s visit to the United States

02 May 2022


As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its third month, Allies continue to ramp up their support for Ukraine as well as adjust NATO’s deterrence and defence posture in the East. Russia’s threat to Euro-Atlantic security and the Alliance’s adaptation to the new security environment were the key focus of the Defence and Security Committee’s visit to the United States from 25-29 April. During their visit, Allied parliamentarians also reviewed some military technological innovations which aim to support Allies in addressing current and future challenges.

Senior officials from the US Departments of State and Defense, as well as a range of experts, offered assessments of Russia’s ongoing invasion, as Moscow appears to have refocused its war effort towards the Donbas and Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline. 

In his remarks to fellow legislators, a day before US President Joe Biden announced a vast USD 33 bn increase in US military, economic and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, NATO PA President Gerald E. Connolly stressed that “Ukraine’s mortal sin in Putin’s eyes is to assert that they get to decide their own destiny – a sin for which they are paying the ultimate price every day.”  “If we needed to be reminded of the rationale for the Alliance”, President Connolly continued, “we are witnessing it every day in Ukraine: not just to deter aggression but to assert democratic values.”

Alec Shelbrooke (UK), Chairperson of the Defence and Security Committee, condemned “President Putin’s brutal war” and “horrific war crimes, committed for no other reason than the ambitions of a fascist dictator.” He stressed that “the post-Cold War peace dividend is gone” as Euro-Atlantic security “turned a corner” and “Allies have to relearn some lessons from the Cold War.”

All of the delegation’s interlocutors stressed how NATO Allies have responded with remarkable unity and resolve to Russia’s war. Allied Heads of State and Government are expected to consider further adjustments to NATO’s deterrence and defence posture when they meet in Madrid at the end of June, a summit at which they will also adopt NATO’s next Strategic Concept. In addition to recognising Russia’s actions as the most immediate threat to Euro-Atlantic security, the Strategic Concept is expected to guide the Alliance’s adaptation to the complex range of threats and challenges facing Allies, from terrorism to climate change to threats in the cyber and space domains. Importantly, the new Strategic Concept is expected to define the Alliance’s policy towards China’s rise, which some of the delegation’s interlocutors identified as the greatest long-term geopolitical challenge. 

The Madrid Summit is also expected to reaffirm NATO’s Open Door policy. The prospect of Finland and Sweden’s potential membership in NATO was a recurring topic during the Committee’s visit, as both countries undergo active internal reviews and consultations.   

Before travelling to Washington, D.C., the delegation started their visit in Fort Worth, TX at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ F-35 plant and Bell Textron Inc. Helicopters facility. There, they were able to discuss how two major US defence industries are seeking to provide the leading-edge capabilities which Allied militaries need to address today and tomorrow’s challenges. 

The delegation was made up of 28 members of parliament from 15 Allied countries. The visit’s findings will feed into the three draft reports which the Committee will discuss at the Assembly’s upcoming Spring Session in Vilnius, Lithuania on 27-30 May.

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