As the Alliance unites to refocus on Russia and China, Turkey will be confronted with a choice regarding the countries it has been able to balance until now.
After four years of occasional criticism of NATO under President Trump, President Biden took office fully supportive of the alliance, stating that NATO and its allies would focus on the threats posed by Russia and China.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that leaders had agreed to the new 2030 vision for the alliance at the meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government earlier this month.
"We are opening a new chapter in transatlantic relations. We will make our Alliance stronger and better fit for the future," he said, underling that China and Russia were key challengers to the international system.
Russia was cited nearly 40 times in the Brussels Summit Communique, which also mentioned that a return to normalcy in affairs with Russia — like before 2014 — would be out of the question until Russia shows compliance with international law and responsibilities. It was also noted that Russia's growing missile capacity would be reciprocated in a careful and balanced fashion.
For the first time, China was given wide coverage in the NATO declaration, stating that China's declared ambitions and dominant behaviors constitute systematic challenges to the rules-based international order and other security areas.
In other words, the declaration indicates that the US is planning on building two fronts against Russia and China with the support of NATO and its partners: The former starts in the Baltic region extending to the Caucasus via Eastern Europe and the Black Sea and then to Central Asia. The latter starts in Central Asia, going down to the Indian Ocean, extending to South Korea and Japan, and including countries in Southeast Asia.
Forming the ‘NATO Lake’
Another important development was the confirmation that Ukraine and Georgia would be accepted as NATO members, bringing the US closer to its goal of turning the Black Sea into a "NATO Lake". This will extend NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region on land, sea and air. Naturally, this is something that is of close concern to Russia.
Of course, the repercussions of the Biden-Putin meeting after the NATO summit are also continuing; there are no solutions to the main issues, and none were expected anyway. President Biden pointed out that we would see whether there will be any results within one year.
The only positive outcome is that diplomatic mechanisms have started working again: the Russian ambassador is returning to Washington, and the US ambassador is returning to Moscow.
Likewise, the two leaders also discussed adherence to the decision to extend the New START Treaty by five years. Washington and Moscow will start consultations in cybersecurity regarding the cyberattacks about which the US is concerned, but the reality is that both countries still do not trust each other.
President Biden's goal was to ease the tension and utilise diplomatic channels. President Putin, on the other hand, made his usual statements about focusing on what's ahead of them.
NATO aims to transform conflicts in the world into effective instruments through economic, political, and if necessary, military interventions.
Turkey is mentioned several times in the Communique, in which the noteworthy remarks were the statement regarding NATO's satisfaction toward the establishment of the NATO Maritime Security Center of Excellence in Turkey; the increase in its contributions to security measures specially designed for Turkey; its monitoring activities on missile threats against Turkey and the expression of gratitude towards Turkey for hosting Syrian refugees.
The NATO 2030 roadmap will motivate allies to take greater action against Russia and China. Since Turkey has a good relationship with Russia and China, at some point, Turkey will have to make a choice when it comes to her neighbour Russia, and trade partner China.
For instance, the NATO Communications and Information Agency is exploring the potential of 5G for the Alliance. This means that Chinese companies like Huawei might have issues in Turkey if NATO makes a joint decision against Chinese tech companies — as some NATO countries already have — in the near future.
It will be difficult for Turkey to continue its balancing strategy in light of the new steps NATO will take against China and Russia. Turkey will eventually have to make a choice. And it should be with the NATO Alliance.