Indo-Pacific, Ukraine to drive talks at NATO summit

by Admin
Indo-Pacific, Ukraine to drive talks at NATO summit

As NATO prepares to mark its 75th anniversary next week, the alliance is beginning to explore a larger role for itself in the Indo-Pacific.

In an interview with VOA, Stephen Flanagan — an adjunct senior fellow at the research organization RAND — said NATO doesn’t play a major role in Indo-Pacific security, but that NATO and its allies are recognizing an increased need to take limited steps for cooperation in the region.

Flanagan, who served as a senior director of the National Security Council during the Obama administration, said some NATO countries that normally don’t have military activities in the Indo-Pacific, such as Germany, have begun sending ships to counter Chinese aggression in the area. Limited steps including cooperation on space interests against Russia and China and cooperation against disinformation are feasible actions NATO can assume without taking on too much, Flanagan said.

“Those are areas of cooperation that I think are manageable,” Flanagan said. “Those aren’t going to stress the alliance in terms of this idea of overextension, that NATO’s taking on too many issues.”

Flanagan noted that Japan is “very anxious” to increase NATO’s activity in the Indo-Pacific due to its territorial dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands. And as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues, China and North Korea have contributed to Russia’s war effort, with almost 90% of microchips in Russia coming from China, Flanagan said.

The heads of state for all 32 NATO allies will meet with leaders from four Indo-Pacific countries: Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. NATO hopes to build the resilience of allies to confront activity from China, said Douglas Jones, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.

A proposal to establish a NATO office in Tokyo is “not under active discussion,” according to Jones.

Jones said the summit will introduce “concrete ways” for NATO to help Ukraine against Russian aggression and implement reforms to guide Ukraine toward membership in NATO, although the exact wording is still being negotiated.

The summit is set for July 9-11 in Washington and comes as a bloc that includes several NATO adversaries met this week at their own security summit in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met Wednesday, having previously met in May when Putin visited Beijing.

Established in 2001 by China and Russia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization includes Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The war in Ukraine was not expected to be formally discussed at the SCO summit, but a senior Kazakh official told The Associated Press that there could be “sideline” discussions on the subject.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.

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