The NATO summit is being held in Madrid, Spain, from the 28th to the 30th. NATO members meet once a year to coordinate defensive strategies and discuss other issues. All 30 members attended the summit, as did four non-members from Asia-Pacific who attended for the first time: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. The intergovernmental military alliance’s 30 member states are eager to demonstrate their unity in the face of Russian aggression.
According to its Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, leaders attending the two-day conference are expected to unveil a “transformative” approach to their security and defence strategy, the likes of which have not been seen since the Cold War. This year’s summit will focus on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis as well as Finland and Sweden’s full membership in the Alliance. Other issues on the agenda include China’s growing influence and assertiveness, as well as the security implications of climate change. However, there will be complicated questions to navigate, including Turkey’s opposition to Finland and Sweden’s bids to join the alliance, as well as the need to balance defense spending with nations’ domestic budgets in the face of rising inflation and recession fears.
Asia-Pacific allies in the realm of NATO
The US invitation to Asia-Pacific nations to attend the summit could be reasonably understood. As one observer states, South Korea and Japan joined for the first time. According to the statement released, NATO will increase its cooperation with Asia-Pacific partners in areas like cyber, new technologies, disinformation, maritime security, climate change, and resilience. By inviting these Asian Pacific countries and by drawing more countries, they would be able to make a united front against Russia since the latter’s encroachment on Ukraine’s border for the past four months is aggressively stretching. On the other hand, China’s activeness in the Indo-Pacific region is a threat to NATO as well as the Asian countries of Japan and South Korea. Such a step will also help NATO to expand globally and exercise its framework holistically and effectively.
NATO will isolate Russia and contain China over the Ukraine crisis through cooperation with Asian countries. Analysts say the US is pressuring more countries to take sides in the crisis and is using it to help NATO’s global expansion. It is critical to balance power in the international arena.
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In recent years, the USA and NATO have been involved in developing various strategic fronts in the Asia-Pacific nations and maritime borders to confront China on different levels, through alliances like QUAD and AUKUS. Japan and South Korea see this as an opportunity to collaborate closely with the United States.
Initially, Japan and Russia were at odds. Japan shares maritime borders with Russia, and China’s unquestionable stance on the Ukraine issue is posing a danger to these Asian nations. The ultimate aim of Japan is to achieve a balance between China and the west. While South Korea is sceptical and concerned about the Kremlin’s uninterrupted support for North Korea, according to a second presidential official, the new NATO mission would be led by South Korea’s ambassador to Belgium, who also serves as the country’s envoy to the European Union (EU).
India’s stance on joining NATO
Why then, is India not invited to the NATO summit despite being an important part of the Indo-Pacific region? India is not in the North Atlantic or anywhere or around it. A principled engagement with NATO must be a key component of India’s new European orientation, particularly as the continent seeks a new role in the Indo-Pacific. Many presumed political taboos in Indian foreign policy have been broken in recent years, but talking to NATO is not one of them.
Nehru’s non-aligned movement focused on expanding the “area of peace,” rather than the “area of hostility or war.” As a result, India did not approve or join the Baghdad Pact, SEATO, CENTO, NATO, or the Manila Treaty, which linked East Asian and Western nations to the Western power bloc.
The answer to this entails many reasons.
- It’s India’s longstanding refusal to align, and it’s an organizational cohesion via the non-aligned movement.
- Despite growing tensions with Russia and China in recent years, NATO maintains regular consultations with both.
- By joining NATO, India could lose strong and long-term ties with Russia.
- An important clause in NATO’s treaty is that an attack against one is considered an attack on all and would be called a “joint action” against the aggressor. India opposes such moves, saying they are a breach of the basic features of sovereignty.
- Joining NATO would also have necessitated NATO bases on Indian soil, which India thinks is not an appropriate step.
Although India’s non-alignment was no longer relevant once the Cold War ended in 1989–91, since then, NATO has formed alliances with a wide range of neutral and non-aligned states. India has many bilateral and monoliteral military engagements with many NATO members individually, but contrary to this fact, despite having border disagreements with Russia and China, it has cooperated with them in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union necessitated a new approach to Europe. However, India was unable to devote the level of strategic attention that Europe required. The formalization of engagement between India and Brussels, as well as a lack of high-level political interest, prevented India from fully emphasizing a revived Europe.
NATO has not offered India membership, and India is not interested. The issue at hand is the prospect of finding common ground. Europe and NATO require partners like India, Australia, and Japan to play any role in the Indo-Pacific. In turn, India recognizes that no single power can ensure Indo-Pacific stability and security. India’s enthusiasm for the Quad reflects a recognition of the importance of forming coalitions.