Collective defence

07.07.2023 - Article

Collective defence is the core task of the North Atlantic Alliance.

Since the end of the Second World War, NATO has been one of the key guarantors of security on the European continent. The transatlantic alliance remains indispensable for the security of Germany and Europe.

NATO is an alliance for collective defence. In the event of an armed attack, Germany can rely on support from its fellow allies in Europe and North America. Conversely, all NATO members can rest assured that Germany will assist them should they come under armed attack.

Considering that violence and the threat of force have returned to Europe, effective collective defence is absolutely crucial. The illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine make plain that security cannot be taken for granted. New risks also keep emanating from regions marked by conflict in NATO’s southern neighbourhood. The global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the rearmament of many countries are creating new threat scenarios. NATO takes a 360-degree approach here.

In response, NATO remains primarily focused on deterrence to prevent the use of military force in the Euro-Atlantic area. For this, the Alliance maintains and develops a well-balanced, wide range of nuclear and conventional assets that include a ballistic missile defence capability. NATO will take all the necessary steps to guarantee the credibility, the effectiveness and the security of the nuclear deterrence mandate.

Allied solidarity can take different forms. In the history of the Alliance, Article 5 was invoked only once, after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States. In practical terms, Allied solidarity means that Allies support and assist each other.

One example is the assurance measures that were implemented in the eastern part of Alliance territory. These were agreed in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the continued destabilisation of eastern Ukraine by Russia. This presence was expanded once more in February 2022 in reaction to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. This includes the enhanced presence of multinational formations in the eight states at NATO’s eastern flank. In 2017, Germany became framework nation and took the lead of an international battalion in Lithuania, thus, together with its partners, sending a strong signal of Allied solidarity. Germany has announced its readiness to deploy a German brigade in Lithuania on a permanent basis. This is to be done gradually once the necessary infrastructure has been set up in Lithuania, in accordance with NATO planning and in close coordination with Lithuania. Other measures include enhanced air policing in the Baltic region, which Germany participates in on a regular basis, as well as joint exercises.

Disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation remain fundamental to our security and make an essential contribution to the aims of the Alliance while complementing deterrence and defence. That is why NATO supports both individual measures such as Trust Funds to secure ammunition depots, destroy decommissioned military materiel, and clear mines, as well as providing political support to international efforts to promote effective non-proliferation policies and reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles taking into account the current security environment. The focus is on promoting confidence-building measures and predictability by nurturing dialogue, improving mutual understanding and establishing effective instruments for crisis prevention and management. NATO serves as a platform for discussion and close consultation on arms control endeavours.

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