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Lightning-Speed Deal. Germany to Purchase F-35 for Nuclear Sharing

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image source: Lockheed Martin

In July 2022, the Department of State and the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved the sale of F-35A Lightning II multirole combat aircraft to Germany. This came as a climax of quite a protracted and a rather tragicomic story of Germany’s Luftwaffe purchasing a new carrier of nuclear weapons to carry out “NATO nuclear sharing.”

The Legacy

Today’s NATO nuclear sharing is a legacy of the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR, which has effectively evolved into a policy relic over the 30 years that followed. RIAC has already described the history of the program in detail. The first carriers of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) in Germany were deployed in October 1953 when the U.S. forces stationed in Germany received first specialized M65 cannons designed to fire nuclear devices. Over a few years, the U.S. Air Force acquired surface-to-surface guided missiles, such as MGR-1 Honest John and MGM-5 Corporal, air bombs, and MGM-1 Matador, the first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile.

Curiously, back then, the U.S. government had no official permission from the German government (and never requested it), such as a ratified international treaty. However, striving to maintain friendly ties and acting out of “intra-alliance politeness,” Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was notified of these steps and of the U.S. army’s readiness to use the TNW in military hostilities waged in Germany in case of war with the USSR, even though the Chancellor was to understand that the U.S., as an occupying power, did not need his consent. However, published documents show that the U.S. was concerned with this matter in view of the future, in case special rights to deploy troops were to be abolished.[1] It should be noted that some interpretations posit the German authorities still may not dispute the U.S. right to deploy its troops.[2] Practically speaking, though, these are legal conflicts: U.S. troops, including nuclear weapons, are deployed in Germany with consent of local authorities, and it can hardly be imagined that they would not be withdrawn should the local authorities firmly demand it. On the contrary, when President Donald Trump announced a redeployment of some U.S. troops to other European states, German and pro-Democrat U.S. media presented it as a tragedy that could undermine U.S.–Germany allied relations and NATO’s solidarity, while the Pentagon was sabotaging this decision until Joe Biden abolished it altogether, something the media painted as a great blessing.

Adenauer’s laid-back attitude to nuclear weapons is easy to explain. In the 1950s, today’s concept of non-proliferation was not yet conceived, and West Germany’s leaders envisaged their country to become a nuclear power in a medium-term outlook[3]—as did, for instance, the leaders of Sweden or Italy. For the time being, allied weapons were enough, especially since the U.S. began steering a course for arming its NATO allies with nuclear weapons in the late 1950s, at least by training them and by providing carriers. In the future, the U.S. seemed intent on establishing “NATO’s united nuclear forces” that were sometimes visualized in rather exotic forms, whether a joint force operating intermediate-range missiles stationed in silos under a glacier in Greenland or joint fleets disguised as transport vessels carrying ballistic missiles or rail-based missile complexes cruising around Europe.

However, more practical work was underway in the late 1950s. In 1958, when NATO Atomic Stockpile program was launched with a view to increasing military capabilities of the allied armies under NATO’s new MC 70 directive, [4]the new Luftwaffe was already receiving U.S. F-84F Thunderstreak bombers, which were largely designed as nuclear bomb carriers. The Department of State’s European Bureau noted in a memorandum of November 1958 that West Germany had ordered “dual purpose” systems—such as MIM-14 Nike Hercules SAM systems, MGR-1 Honest John rockets, and Matador cruise missiles—to be delivered shortly.[5]

With discussions and debates on the issue transpiring in the U.S. itself, the militaries were still engaged in fairly close cooperation, exchanged experience while steering clear of any political discussions and the nascent movement for nuclear non-proliferation. For instance, when inspecting the status of American nuclear weapons in Germany in September 1962, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and his colleagues visited a Luftwaffe airbase to discover that “warheads were … stored aboard those aircraft on alert status. The assumption that the German pilots do not know how to arm these warheads turns out to be fictional; on request, one of the pilots showed the U.S. visitors how this was done.”[6] Later, West Germany received several nuclear weapons carriers, including Pershing 1a ballistic missiles with a range of about 740 km, which could strike targets not only in East Germany but also in Poland, Czechoslovakia or Hungary. Later, the Luftwaffe used the U.S.-purchased F-104G Starfighter for nuclear aviation bomb carriers (using a high-altitude interceptor as a low-level strike aircraft largely resulted in its notoriously many crashes) and Panavia Tornado strike fighters, a joint product of Italy, Britain and Germany. Officially, the U.S. military remained in control of all the payloads—in practice, though, both the Bundeswehr and the Luftwaffe would operate in a combat situation as full-fledged nuclear forces within NATO’s allied forces.

A nuclear white elephant

Once the Cold War ended, the presence of U.S. troops in Europe, the armies of its local allies, and local American tactical nuclear weapons were being rapidly reduced. Consequently, America’s European nuclear arsenal was reduced by an order of magnitude. All the TNWs were eliminated, except for B61 free-fall air bombs for army air forces. The U.S. withdrew nuclear weapons from the UK, South Korea, and Japan, and nuclear weapons in other states were significantly reduced. Unofficial estimates claim that there are now about a hundred B61-3 and B61-4 bombs deployed in five states (Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and Germany) at six air bases equipped with special WS3 hangar storage systems.[7]

In Germany, bombs—likely totaling no more than 20 units—are deployed at the Büchel airbase in Rhineland-Palatinate in the country’s southwest. Nörvenich and Ramstein air bases are no longer used for the purpose, even though the latter had 55 WS3 systems, the largest number built in Europe (Büchel only has 11), enough to house up to 220 bombs.[8]

Only the 33rd tactical Luftwaffe wing (Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33, TaktLwG 33) stationed in Büchel is trained in the use of nuclear weapons on Tornado IDS strike aircraft. This unit is among the oldest in the “new” iteration of the Luftwaffe, the first air wing to fly jet fighter bombers (in 1958, they flew the above-mentioned F-84F Thunderstreak); originally, this unit was led by Walter Krupinski, one of the Nazi Luftwaffe’s highest-scoring pilots in World War II. [9] The 702nd Munitions Support Squadron of the 52nd MUNSS services the bombs and trains technicians and pilots. In addition to regular personnel, air base security is provided by a special Luftwaffe ground force unit, “security squadron S” (Luftwaffensicherungsstaffel „S“).

Despite the general public’s predominantly negative attitude and despite populist statements coming from politicians representing several parties (statements these politicians usually “forget” once they come to power, as happened, for instance, with Annalena Baerbock, the Minister of Foreign Affairs from the anti-nuclear Greens), Germany’s military political leadership clearly did not want U.S. nuclear weapons to be withdrawn from the country even before NATO’s current exacerbation in relations with Russia. Otherwise, Germany’s leaders would have achieved it back during the quiet 1990s–2000s, as, for instance, the British leadership did under public pressure. If we look past the perfunctory statements of allied solidarity, Germany’s leadership apparently sees American nuclear bombs as a tool for upgrading Germany’s status within NATO to the “semi-nuclear inner circle,” as well as a means of making its voice louder in the Alliance’s nuclear planning group.

Besides, American and NATO politicians exploit German establishment’s fear of Poland getting excessively strong should Germany “slacken.” For instance, in late 2021, when Germany was discussing American nuclear bombs once again, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Q&A session after his speech at the German Atlantic Association Conference, threatened that should Berlin demand a withdrawal of nuclear weapons they will appear “east of Germany” as part of the U.S. bilateral treaty with some other state (that is, utterly outside NATO’s control). [10] Naturally, in connection with the current public sentiments in NATO states, the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine puts to rest the matter of possible reductions in NATO’s nuclear sharing for the foreseeable future.

Punch line for a long-running joke

For Germany, its continued participation in nuclear sharing was tied to the long-running problem of carrier aircraft. Since the 1980s, the principal (and soon only) carriers of American B61 bombs in European air forces were the F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters purchased in the U.S. or the Europe-designed Tornado aircraft. Today, the former are used in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey, while the latter are deployed in Germany and Italy. Both aircraft were produced in the 1980s–early 1990s, and they are outdated and old, which suggests they should soon be put out of service.

Four out of five states have already decided to purchase F-35A Lightning II, a fifth-generation multirole stealth aircraft that Washington labels as the principal carrier of B61-12, a thermonuclear bomb that comes as a guided and high-precision update of B61. The “Turkish question” still remains: following Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile system and because of a generally sharply exacerbated relations, Ankara was excluded from the program, and the fighters Turkey had already paid for were “arrested” in the U.S. This question, however, may be resolved in the future, and a purchase of a shipment of newly-made F-16 fighters is now discussed. In any case, there are reports of Turkish pilots having had no training in using nuclear weapons for a long time, while the bombs in Incirlik are the Middle Eastern cutting-edge arsenal for the U.S. air force itself.

It is easy to see that Germany alone was not on this list. Around 2016–2017, Germany was close to buying F-35, but then its relations with Washington cooled off as the United States under Donald Trump sharply criticized Berlin for insufficient defense spending (far below the 2% of the GDP recommended by NATO) and, therefore, for “mooching off” the U.S. in Germany’s security. In such a situation, Germany’s authorities decided—as a matter of principle—to purchase more European-made Eurofighter Typhoon multipurpose fighters.

The story of Luftwaffe Inspector Karl Müllner is utterly tragicomic: the General did not promptly toe the “party line” and continued to insist that F-35 needed to be bought as nuclear bomb carriers and even openly argued with Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen. As a result, he was forced to resign amid a scandal in the spring of 2018.

For a while, certifying Eurofighter Typhoon as a nuclear weapons carrier became the master plan for continued participation in nuclear sharing. Airbus was confident it could be done by 2025. Having to be involved in reconfiguring the fighter and willing to have the final say on whether the aircraft was ready, the U.S. began hinting that the process would take longer than Tornadoes would remain in service (and the time need to certify Tornado would “turn out” to be longer than any Tornado’s in-service time named by Germany).

Ultimately, the German government drove itself into a corner and decided in March 2020 to buy Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter bombers. The purchase of a small number (30) of originally carrier-based aircraft which did not enjoy much popularity on the global market, which were not aligned with Luftwaffe aircraft and with those of its NATO allies, which did not have better combat capabilities than Eurofighter Typhoon (for instance, F-35 is stealth aircraft and would open up new opportunities) looked like a hugely awkward decision Angela Merkel’s government made in a tortured manner for political reasons. It would have looked very silly had it decided to purchase F-35 once again, when it had harshly refused to purchase them two years prior. A small bonus consisted solely in purchasing, together with Super Hornets, 15 EA-18G Growler, EW aircraft (jamming, surveillance, air defense suppression) also designed by the Hornet. Currently, these tasks are carried out by old Tornado ECR aircraft that need to be replaced.

Another comic element in this story is that the Super Hornet has not been designed to carry B61 bombs and is not certified to carry nuclear weapons, [11]  but the U.S. hinted that it would deal with that problem much faster. For some reason, arguments that “first, we would need to spend several years reconfiguring it carry F-35” cited against Eurofighter Typhoon have not been brought forward concerning the Super Hornet.

Everyone could easily see how impractical that decision was, and when new leaders came to power in Germany in the fall of 2021, Germans began taking careful steps towards “re-appraising” the possibility of purchasing F-35. The process, however, would have certainly been drawn out over several years since the subject was highly “toxic” both due to the issue of U.S. nuclear bombs as such and on account of the stupid predicament the former government had driven Germany into.

When Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine, Berlin reacted with a truly lightning speed: the decision to buy F-35A Lightning II without a bidding process came as early as March 14. Essentially, it was the first practical step taken to buy additional equipment for the German armed forces. To support German manufacturers, the country decided to buy additional 15 Eurofighter Typhoon in its EW aircraft modification (that is, to finance its development since at the moment this modification is just a concept).

In late July, the U.S. Administration officially approved the deal; legislature is likely to promptly follow suit. In its Congressional notification, the DSCA estimated 35 F-35A fighters with equipment, spare and repair parts, weapons (including long-range cruise missiles AGM-158B JASSM-ER) and personnel training to cost USD 8.4 bn. [12]. Lockheed Martin, the fighter’s manufacturer, suggested that should the contract be signed in the near future, it could deliver first fighters to the Luftwaffe already in 2026; Tornado aircraft should last that long.

The German government managed to resolve its predicament by promptly using the changed geopolitical situation. Thanks to the F-35 purchase, they did everything they could to preserve the desired status quo of American nuclear weapons. The Luftwaffe will receive a fifth-generation stealth aircraft used by many of Germany’s NATO allies. Flying F-35 could prove useful for the program of developing forward-looking European FCAS fighter. On the other hand, purchasing F-35 reduces the need for a FCAS and additionally sours relations with France, a partner in the FCAS program, as France insists that Europe rely more on its own forces. Additionally, operating a small number of fighters that are not aligned with the rest of the Luftwaffe’s aircraft fleet will be a very expensive undertaking (unless, of course, Berlin decides, further down the road, to make F-35 one of the Luftwaffe’s main fighters).

However, Germany’s leadership is apparently ready and willing to pay for Germany’s semi-nuclear status. Most likely, America’s vestigial nuclear presence will remain in Europe for a long time, until some kind of an exchange deal with Russia, for instance, in the matter of the latter’s TNW (nuclear weapons were likely kept in Europe just for that purpose, as the military value of relatively few free-fall nuclear bombs is small). When the U.S. decides to get rid of these weapons, it will not consult its “privileged allies,” just like it did not consult them in the mid-1950s when deploying nuclear weapons in their country.

[1]For instance, “Gerard C. Smith, Special Assistant to the Secretary for Atomic Energy Matters, ‘Memorandum of Negotiations Looking to Obtain Storage and Use Rights for Atomic Weapons in Western Germany,’” Draft, 12 August 1954

[2]Under the Bonn-Paris Conventions of 1952/54, the US, the UK, and France gave the Federal Republic of Germany much of its sovereignty back, with Germany, however, agreeing to a series of restrictions, including giving up the right to demand a withdrawal of foreign troops. These conventions are to remain in force until the Allies and Germany sign the final peace treaty, yet this treaty has never been and apparently will not be concluded. Under the 1990 Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany that largely replaces such a peace treaty, the USSR alone gave up its right to deploy troops in Germany, and NATO undertook not to deploy its troops or nuclear weapons only in the former German Democratic Republic.

[3] “Nuclear Weapons and German Interests: An Attempt at Redefinition” PRIF-Report No. 55/2000, p. 6

[4] “Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe History 1958” pp. 61-70

[5] “EUR/RA [Office of European Regional Affairs] Mr. Timmons to EUR [Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs]- Mr. Merchant, ‘Atomic Armament of Germany,’” 25 November 1958

[6] “S/p [Policy Planning Council] Mr. Owen to G [Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs]: Mr. Johnson,’ Paul Nitze’s Report on Europe,’” 11 October 1962

[7] “United States nuclear weapons, 2022,” Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, 9 May 2022, pp. 176-178

[8]  “U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe. A Review of Post-Cold War Policy, Force Levels, and War Planning,” Hans M. Kristensen, February 2005, p. 13

[9] He is credited with 197 air victories. Krupinski, by that time promoted to the commanding officer of the Luftwaffe, and several other high-ranking officers were told to retire only in 1976, when they, frankly speaking, finally bugged the hell out of civilian authorities with their openly Nazi opinions and insulting behavior toward political leaders of left-wing parties.

[10] “I expect that Germany will continue to be part of nuclear sharing because it is so important for the whole of Europe… The alternative to NATO nuclear sharing is different kinds of bilateral arrangements. … Germany can, of course, decide whether there will be nuclear weapons in your country. But the alternative is that we easily end up with nuclear weapons in all the countries of Europe, also to the east of Germany. So I think that nuclear sharing is a balanced, well-organized, tested structure for nuclear deterrence” audio recording (time code 41:30)

[11] It was developed and put into service already after the US carrier-based aircraft completely abandoned nuclear weapons in the mid-1990s.

[12] We should note that the DSCA’s notifications are not contracts, and final deals sometimes come with very different packages and costs.

From our partner RIAC

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Mobilization Won’t Save Russia from the Quagmire



photo:© Vitaly Nevar/TASS

When Moscow waged war against Ukraine in February, few expected Russia to end up in a quagmire.  The Russian military failed to achieve its goals, while the Ukrainians fought bravely to defend their nation.  The recent pushback in the Kharkiv region further proved that Russia could not achieve its military goals under the current situation. 

The Russian government takes a new procedure.  President Putin has called for partial mobilization, commissioning the reserved forces and those previously served.  Meanwhile, the Russian government has decided to launch referendums for the occupied areas to join Russia.  Any attacks on those territories in the future could be considered total war and potentially trigger nuclear weapon use.  

It is vital to notice this is only a partial mobilization, only recalling reservists.  However, many Russian politicians and nationalists have called for total mobilization.  Yet, a mobilization, whether partial or complete, is not a prescription to improve Moscow’s performance on the battlefield.  The mobilization, in reality, could further drag Russia into a quagmire. 

Russia does not have the political leverage it had before, home and abroad.  Total mobilization will not change Russia’s diplomatic stalemate.  The war united European countries quickly.  While Russia accused Ukraine of attempting to join NATO, Finland and Sweden have applied to become NATO members, bringing NATO close to Saint Petersburg.  A total mobilization is unlikely to threaten Europe and forces it to change its policy.  Instead, it will further push the European countries to unite in facing Russian aggression.

Even the countries with which Russia has a closer relationship have different opinions.  Indian prime minister Modi has told President Putin to take the path of peace and stop the war in a recent meeting.  India has a close relationship with Russia, and Modi’s criticism is a significant blow to Putin.  Even Central Asia countries have also expressed no interest in Putin’s aggression.  Kazakhstan has clearly stated that it will neither send its military to fight in Ukraine nor recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk. A total mobilization and an escalation of the war will further alienate Russia and its allies. 

Domestically, a mobilization could further drag Putin down with his popularity.  Chechnyan president Kadyrov, one of Putin’s close allies, has criticized the war’s progress, reflecting the contrary opinions among Russian elites.  On the everyday citizen level, Putin has also become unpopular.  Immediately after the mobilization was introduced, Russian anti-war groups called for national protests

Militarily, the Russian war machine is not the Soviet Union military that the world trembles.  The Russian army has needed a significant upgrade since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The chaos after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic crisis has dramatically weakened the Russian armed forces.  The failure in the two Chechnyan Wars is the most obvious evidence.  Putin managed to upgrade a portion of the military equipment and provided a better salary to the personnel.  The Russian military still performed decently during its operation in Syria. 

Yet, the scale of upgrade it needs is far from what Kremlin has offered, and the war further dragged the Russian military capacity.  Before the war, Russia chose not to produce and deploy the most advanced tanks because of the lack of money, and the T-14 tank ended up being a showpiece in the military parade.  The corruption within the Russian military is still a problem, leading to the lack of resources directed for military upgrades. 

That’s why Russia still uses the Soviet military legacy in combat.  The Russian armored forces now have to use T-64 tanks from their storage because of the significant loss at the initial stage of the war.  The recruits this summer were only trained for a month before being sent to the frontline.  As for the newly mobilized forces, despite the previously served reservists, it still takes time and equipment to prepare them for operation.  Russia has neither of those, let alone the conscripts are also a part of the reserved forces, making them even more ineffective on the battlefield. 

Moscow’s financial situation to sustain a mobilization remains a big question.  Despite the excellent performance of the Russian Ruble in the currency market, Russia’s economy will still face severe challenges.  Teachers are now required to donate to the war effort, a sign that the war effort is far from successful.  As the announcement of mobilization comes, Moscow’s stock index drops dramatically.  While the sanctions did not work as expected, the Russian economy suffered from the effects.  The banks also reported significant losses in the year’s first half. 

The international price of natural gas and oil has also come down from its peak since European countries finished stacking up their supply earlier.  Meanwhile, UAE and Kuwait are planning to expand their production capacity of natural gas and oil.  Russia’s source of income is far from stable as prices drop and exports and production decline for Russia.

War is a costly activity.  In previous operations in Syria, Russia’s daily cost is around 2.4 to 4 million US dollars.  That was a minor operation with mainly air force participation.  With all forces in action and the war dragging on for more than 200 days, the expenses mounted.  It is believed that the first week of war alone cost Russia 7 billion dollars.  The Kremlin’s decree says that the newly assembled forces will be paid corresponding to the existing personnel.  With that high expense, how will Russia be able to pay for the new troops?  How will Russia be able to replace the equipment and supply its forces?

Moscow believed that by sheer force and lightning warfare, Kyiv would bow down to Moscow.  However, this dream ended with a valiant effort from the Ukrainians to defend the country.  Further mobilization may provide the short-term manpower that Russia needs, but it will not save Russia from the predicament.  The bleak reality in politics, the military, and the economy has made mobilization anything but a save.  

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Rise in mercenary forces trigger ‘rampant’ human rights violations

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Human rights violations committed by mercenaries and private security companies create grave challenges for victims seeking justice and redress, UN-appointed independent human rights experts warned on Tuesday.

Presenting its new report to the Human Rights Council 51st session, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries said that this was due to the particularity of the perpetrators and the way they operate.

They also noted that the proliferation of mercenaries, contractors operating as soldiers for hire and private security companies in conflict, post-conflict and peacetime settings, has increased the number of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

“Deplorable gaps in accountability, access to justice, and remedies for victims of violations perpetrated by such actors are rampant,” said Sorcha MacLeod, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group, who presented the report to the Council.

‘Victim-centred approach’

The experts explained that, in the contexts in which they operate, the impacts of their actions are of grave concern.

Persons in vulnerable situations, women, children, migrants and refugees, people with disabilities, LGBTI+ persons, older persons, minorities, human rights defenders and journalists, are experiencing particularly negative impacts, the experts highlighted.

“Given this bleak situation, a holistic and victim-centred approach is imperative to ensure victims’ effective access to justice and remedy,” Ms. MacLeod said.

Investigate and punish offenders

The report highlights a lack of accountability and the common challenges faced by victims in accessing justice and effective remedies to overcome the damage mercenaries leave in their wake.

It drew specific attention to the secrecy and opacity surrounding the activities of mercenaries, military contractors hired to kill, and private security companies; their complex business and corporate structures, issues related to jurisdiction; and gaps in national and international regulation.

States have obligations under international human rights law to prevent, investigate, and punish violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to provide effective remedies and reparation to victims of mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, and private military and security companies,” the experts said.

They concluded by urging States to adopt national legislation to “regulate the activities of these actors, punish perpetrators, and provide redress for victims are part of these implementation efforts”.

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A New Strategic Shifts and A New Strategic Concept of NATO

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, in Madrid at the end of last June, was not just an ordinary summit resembling its predecessors. It looked so different that it might be thought that it might constitute an important turning point in the path of the Alliance.

This summit was held four months after the start of the war that Russia launched against Ukraine. And because it is a war that posed an unprecedented challenge to NATO, due to the exposure of one of the European states nominated for its membership to a direct Russian military invasion, for the first time since the end of World War II, and therefore in the history of the alliance, it is natural that any summit held after that will turn into something like a thermometer that does not only measure the degree of the alliance’s cohesion in facing a challenge of this magnitude, but also the extent of its readiness to respond to it, and to all similar and potential challenges in the future.

Its contract coincided with a time when the Alliance had to issue a new document outlining its strategic concept for the next ten years. Because the last document of this type was issued in 2010, it was assumed that 2020 would be the date of the issuance of the document covering the third era of the twenty-first century, which did not happen due to the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, which disrupted the convening of the summit during 2020 and 2021. Thus, fate decided that the date of a summit with the task of formulating a new strategic vision for the alliance coincided with the outbreak of a major crisis, some of whom do not rule out that it would be the starting point in a third world war, which added to the ‘strategic concept’ document signed by NATO leaders on June 29 the past for the period up to 2030 is doubly important and exceptional.

The 2022 document, which is 11 pages in length, includes 49 items distributed on three axes: objectives and principles, the strategic environment, and the main tasks of the alliance (deterrence and defense, prevention and crisis management, cooperative security) a vision that clearly emphasizes that the strategic concept of NATO has undergone fundamental changes, especially if compared to the concept contained in the document issued in 2010. This is from multiple angles: it reflects, first, a clear change in the alliance’s vision of the sources of threats to its security, because the previous document issued in 2010, which reflected the strategic concept of the alliance for the period up to 2020, Terrorism was placed at the top of the list of sources of threat to peace and security at various levels, while this source took steps backward in the 2022 document, and is no longer seen as the main source of threat to the security and stability of the Alliance.

The Russian Federation advanced to occupy the top position on this list. This document spoke of the Russian Federation as ‘the biggest and most direct threat to the security of the Alliance and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region… because it aims to destabilize the countries of our east and south, in the far north.’

Here, it notes the extent of the direct impact of the war in Ukraine on changing the alliance’s vision to the sources of threats to its security and stability. It is also noted that the alliance no longer views Russia as a potential or indirect threat, but rather as a direct military threat. ‘The Russian Federation’s ability to disrupt Allied reinforcements and freedom of navigation across the North Atlantic is a strategic challenge to it, and Moscow’s military buildup, including in the Baltic, Black Sea, and Mediterranean regions, along with its military integration with Belarus, challenges our security and interests,’ the document says.

On the other hand, it is noted that the 2010 document avoided looking at China as a source of threat to the alliance, only referring to it as an ambitious competitor seeking to enhance its position at the regional and global levels by increasing its economic, scientific, and technological capabilities. As for the 2022 document, it is not only looking at China as an honorable competitor but as a source of threat no less dangerous than Russia. It is true that it does not see China as a direct military threat to the alliance, as is the case with Russia, but it sees, at the same time, that ‘the declared ambitions of the People’s Republic of China, and its adoption of a wide range of political, economic and military tools to increase its global presence and demonstrate strength, and its use of malicious methods it aims to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, strategic materials, and supply chains, and use its economic influence to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence, etc., which constitute a direct threat to the interests, security, and values ​​of the Alliance.

The most interesting point is that this document considers that ‘the deepening of the strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutual attempts to undermine the rules-based international order is incompatible with our values ​​and interests,’ and therefore should be confronted with due firmness.

Secondly, it reflects a clear change in the Alliance’s vision of how to confront sources of threats to its security and stability. After the Alliance, in its previous documents, focused on ‘cooperation, building partnerships, and networking with others,’ as effective means of confronting various sources of threat, we find it focusing on the current document focuses on ‘building our own capabilities, mobilizing resources, and increasing military expenditures.’ It is true that the document clearly stressed that the alliance ‘does not seek to confront Russia, and does not want to be a source of threat to it,’ but at the same time, it was keen to highlight ‘the alliance’s determination to strengthen the deterrent and defensive capabilities of all its members and that it will respond to threats in a unified and responsible manner.’ And it will keep it’s channels of communication open with the Russians to prevent escalation.

On the other hand, it is noted that the document did not recognize any role of the NATO states or the ruling regime in Ukraine in provoking Russia, and pushing it to use force in Ukraine, under the pretext of ensuring the protection of citizens of Russian origin, nor did it refer, from near or far, to feelings of concern. President Putin, after Ukraine, signed a strategic partnership agreement with the United States on November 10, nor to the demands contained in his message to NATO member states, in response to this agreement, which included: A pledge that Ukraine would not join the alliance NATO, not placing offensive weapons on Russia’s borders, and withdrawing NATO forces from Eastern Europe to Western Europe, demands that the United States refused to even discuss, which eventually led to the outbreak of war. Instead, the document proceeded to affirm the right of all countries in the region, especially Eastern European countries, to determine their fate and future, including joining NATO and the European Union and rejecting any interference by the Russian Federation in the internal affairs of these countries.

If we link what was stated in this document and the path taken by the ongoing war in the Ukrainian arena, we will reach a set of conclusions: The first, regarding how to slip into the currently raging military confrontation in the Ukrainian arena, it is not at all unlikely that the United States, through Its organs and institutions that express the thought and orientations of the deep state, have deliberately lured Russia into a confrontation on the Ukrainian arena, and it has been seriously preparing for this confrontation since Russia occupied the Crimea in 2014.

The second: Relates to the essence of the current conflict in this arena. All the parties involved in it realize that its main goal revolves around putting an end to the unilateral Western hegemony over the current world order and establishing a multi-polar world order or, at least, a tri-polar system in which Russia and China participate, which is rejected by the West led by the United States, and explains the return of NATO cohesion After he was threatened with collapse, he explains, at the same time, the West’s insistence on inflicting a military defeat on Russia in the Ukrainian arena, because its victory means, immediately, the collapse of the unipolar international system.

The third: Is related to the tools used in this conflict, as Western countries realize that Russia is the first nuclear power in the world, forcing it not to engage directly in the ongoing conflict with it in the Ukrainian arena, and then to limit itself to the weapon of comprehensive sanctions against Russia, on the one hand, and to submit The maximum possible military, political and economic support for Ukraine, to enable it to win the war, on the other hand.

Fourth: Concerning the future of this conflict. The path taken indicates, on the one hand, that the economic sanctions have not yielded the desired results, and that Russia may be on its way to winning this round of conflict, but it indicates, on the other hand, that the support provided to Ukraine It not only enabled it to hold out and prevent Russia from achieving a quick and decisive victory, but also to recover the many lands it had lost, and to begin to liberate what remained of them, including Crimea. Because it is impossible to imagine that a nuclear Russia would accept a military defeat in Ukraine, escalation and the use of tactical nuclear weapons are no longer excluded, especially since the events of recent months have proven that the United States has harnessed all its technological and intelligence capabilities in the service of Ukraine, which Moscow may interpret as direct American involvement in the conflict.

So I think the whole world may be about to go into a dark tunnel in the next few months. Unless all of its leaders realize that all of humanity, not just Russia or NATO, faces many sources of threat, not the least of which are climatic changes and infectious diseases, and therefore is in dire need of a new world order that confronts all sources of threats to its common security, it will not be able to Anyone surviving the specter of nuclear war is slowly getting closer.

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