The alliance works to unite the defence industry
10 mins read

The alliance works to unite the defence industry

Welcome back to the foreign policy‘s SitRep. We hope everyone at the NATO summit can survive the heat in Washington. Maybe the overcooked allied leaders will take the hint and do something about climate change while they’re here?

Okay, here’s what’s in store for us today: NATO wants to increase defense industryallies plan to reprimand Russia-North Korea bonds, Ukraine gets more fighters from Western countries and beyond.

NATO countries collectively spend about $1.2 trillion a year on defense. But do allies feel they are truly getting $1.2 trillion worth of protection? That’s the question we asked about a dozen NATO and member state officials this week on the sidelines of the summit in Washington.

To varying degrees, every official has essentially said “no.” All NATO allies are under intense pressure to meet the alliance’s benchmark of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense, and member states have made good progress toward that goal over the past decade.

But it’s not just about the dollar amount – it’s also about how it’s spent. “Strategic commanders won’t use a table of percentages when they’re faced with a situation,” Czech President Petr Pavel told the NATO Public Forum. “They’ll be counting aircraft, ships, combat units at the required readiness. That’s where we need to focus beyond that 2 percent line, because we have significant gaps in our capability goals,” added Pavel, a retired general who served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee for three years.

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said his government estimates Russia will spend about 7 to 9 percent of its GDP on defense this year. (Russia’s GDP is about $5.8 trillion, which translates to about $400 to $520 billion a year on defense.)

NATO officials expect Russia to be able to sustain its war economy for at least another three to four years. To surpass it, the alliance must revive its transatlantic defense industry, which has been in decline for decades since the end of the Cold War.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks warned in a speech Tuesday to the Chamber of Commerce of the “potential for a prolonged war that every ally must prepare for.” (She did not specify whether she was referring to the current war in Ukraine or future wars.)

“We need to accelerate the growth of our collective defense industrial capabilities,” Hicks added. “Adding more changes to current production lines is not enough. We need to add more lines, build more factories and facilities, and bring more manufacturers on board.”

Showing purchasing potential. The NATO summit communiqué — the official document outlining all allies’ priorities for the coming year — will include a new commitment to investing in the defense industry, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Chamber of Commerce. It is meant to send a signal to the defense industry, which is waiting for the long-term contracts it needs to get the production lines up and running that Hicks said the alliance so desperately needs.

NATO plans to spend much of the fall urging member states to boost their military capabilities, including logistics, support and long-term planning to rebuild their defense industries, a senior NATO official told SitRep on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Meanwhile, NATO has used international procurement to kick-start operations, including cooperation agreements among member states to produce Patriot air defense missiles and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as agreements to extend the life of existing air force assets.

But Europe still needs more of everything — especially artillery ammunition and air defense — and much of that energy goes to Ukraine.

“We have taken many steps to strengthen our production capabilities when it comes to 155mm artillery,” Pal Jonson, Sweden’s defense minister, told SitRep. “But (in terms of) air defense, we are further behind than the Americans.”

Part of the answer, Johnson said, is to make sure NATO countries take joint procurement initiatives for major arms programmes, “so we can send signals to the defence industrial base that we will be ordering for a long time to come”.

Closing the back door. Meanwhile, alliance officials are also debating how to tighten Western sanctions against Moscow and its partners to help shrink Russia’s industrial base.

Ukrainian officials have pressed the United States to consider new, far-reaching sanctions against Russian banks to dry up their credit lines for buying more weapons, as well as stronger export controls to close off Russia’s access to key military components. Tobias Billstrom, Sweden’s top diplomat, told SitRep that the allies should consider punitive secondary sanctions to try to hit back-channel suppliers to Russia’s war machine in China and Central Asia.

“The Russians are very adept at adapting technologically and procedurally to many of the challenges they face in Ukraine,” said Gen. Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s top military commander and head of U.S. European Command.

Northern pressure. Despite being NATO’s newest members, both Finland and Sweden are pushing other allies to invest more in defense, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen said at an event in Washington on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the summit. Having Russia as a neighbor, it seems, really makes things clear. “We have been investing heavily in defense for decades, not just during this war in Ukraine,” Häkkänen said, “because we have always seen through our intelligence what the Russians are doing.”

Australian General Angus Campbell after six years, he resigned as head of the Australian Defence Force. Adm. David Johnston is to become the new head of the Australian Armed Forces.

Jung Pak resigned from her position as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, with a special focus on North Korea. Daniel Krytenbrinkassistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, will now oversee the State Department’s policy toward North Korea, agency spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed.

Former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator. Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma died Tuesday at the age of 89.

Which should be high on your radar if you aren’t already.

Unholy covenant. The final NATO summit document is expected to include strong language condemning Russia’s burgeoning military partnership with North Korea, multiple officials told SitRep, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The language reflects growing concern among all allies not only about the prospect of Russia using North Korean munitions in Ukraine but also about what North Korea might receive from Russia in return. The White House has estimated that between September 2023 and February 2024, North Korea delivered about 10,000 containers of ammunition and equipment to Moscow to fuel its war machine in Ukraine.

Fly. Denmark and the Netherlands have begun transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement with the leaders of the two European countries on Wednesday. “The transfer process for these F-16s is currently underway, and Ukraine will be flying operational F-16s this summer,” he said. Poland is also considering plans to send an additional batch of 14 MiG-29 fighters from its own inventory to Ukraine.

Tokyo time. NATO members are revisiting the idea of ​​opening an office in Tokyo to give the alliance its first permanent presence in the Indo-Pacific region after France rejected the idea last year. “We have to go ahead with a liaison office in Tokyo,” Billstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, told Jack and Robbie on Tuesday. “I think it’s logical that if you want your partners to be concerned about your problems, you have to be concerned about their problems.”

But U.S. officials said that was not on the agenda for the Washington summit. Instead, the United States is focusing on joint initiatives by NATO and Indo-Pacific nations to support Ukraine, strengthen cybersecurity and counter disinformation activities.

Modi in Moscow. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first trip to Russia in five years and hugged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday — the same day Russia bombed a children’s hospital in Kiev. The hug sparked a furious response from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It is a huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy embracing the world’s bloodiest criminal in Moscow on such a day,” Zelensky wrote on X. Modi has tried to strike a balance between India’s long-standing relations with Russia on the one hand and its growing ties with the West on the other. Modi told Putin during his visit that “peace is of the utmost importance.”

The alliance works to unite the defence industry
Heads of state pose for a group photo during NATO’s 75th anniversary celebration at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium in Washington, July 9.

Heads of state pose for a group photo during NATO’s 75th anniversary celebration at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, July 9.Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

“I am very happy to take care of my farm (dacha) – consisting mainly of tomatoes and strawberries, but unfortunately without any help from the FSB.”

—Anna Belkina, deputy editor-in-chief of Kremlin media outlet RT, answers questions from FP’s Amy Mackinnon after the U.S. Justice Department announced it was taking action to disrupt what it called a social media bot farm run by RT and the FSB, Russia’s top security agency. The person described as running the bot farm in court documents appeared to fit Belkina’s job description.

Undercooked. Russia served “chicken Kiev” for lunch at the UN Security Council as it took over the council’s rotating presidency just a day after the Russian military bombed a children’s hospital in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, killing dozens.