NATO struggles to maintain united front amid Russia tensions

World Today

NATO’s Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg, right, begins the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Foreign Ministers’ Session 2 at the U.S. State Department in Washington, Thursday, April 4, 2019. Sitting next to Stoltenberg is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

NATO marked its 70th anniversary at a meeting in Washington DC – where it was formed at the advent of the Cold War.

And fears of a renewed Russian nuclear threat were high on the agenda.

But while NATO calls for unity, there are divisions, as CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports.

There’s a perfect symmetry to NATO meeting exactly 70 years after Western allies united against a post Second World War Russian nuclear threat.

Moscow was high on the agenda after suspending its participation in a treaty eliminating intermediate-range cruise missiles.

Washington says Russia has violated the treaty and plans to start missile testing this summer in response.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg insists a strong and united NATO can negotiate with Moscow.

But his hosts wanted to reprimand one particular member.

“We must adapt our allies to confront emerging threats too, whether that’s Russian aggression, uncontrolled migration, cyberattacks, threats to energy security, Chinese strategic competition including technology and 5G,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the meeting.

“These are real challenges to be sure. And now is not the time to repeat tired excuses that ‘our citizens don’t support increase defense spending or security spending.”

That was a veiled attack on Germany, whose defense spending has long fallen short of an agreed two percent of economic output, though its government insists it’ll meet that target by 2024.

But still Russia loomed large over this historic meeting.

Moscow is selling a missile defense system to NATO member Turkey and Turkey is ignoring U.S pressure to abandon the sale.

“The S-400 deal is a done deal and we will not step back from this, “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at an earlier discussion panel.

Tensions with Russia are unlikely to disappear, as NATO enhances its security in the Black Sea and seeks to bring two neighbors, Georgian and Ukraine into its membership.