Extensive discussions regarding the working paper, sponsored by Poland, France, and the United States of America and already signed by the United Kingdom. The current working paper has been criticised due to its vagueness and unspecified measures, which are deemed to be insufficient to effectively tackle the issues that are at stake.
The main criticism, particularly, was raised by many countries on the topic of measures to counter cybersecurity attacks pursued by Russia in the Baltic countries, which are not properly addressed in the working paper. Estonia deems provisions to counter Russia’s cybersecurity attacks are necessary and its voice has been echoed, since cyberwarfare is constantly engaged by Russia. Moreover, the costs of allocation of resources remains an issue that needs to be further considered. The risk that Russia could potentially close the gap between the troops stationed in Kaliningrad and its borders particularly concerns Poland, Estonia and Latvia, two countries that are particularly involved in the region. Moreover, what seems to be missing from the working paper is a naval operation basis, promoted by countries such as Finland and Denmark and backed by the Baltic countries. The concern raised by Hungary on the possibility of enlarging NATO to include Georgia and Ukraine, which are domestically unstable, cannot be taken into consideration, as it was assured by the United States of America. The latter stressed the urgency to protect Lithuania and highlighted the pivotal role played by Sweden and Finland that are to be protected due to the risk of aggressive behaviour conducted by Russia in the seas.
The direct linkage between the GDP and the military expenditure to tackle the of the burden has been criticised by Germany, Turkey, Greece due to internal issues that affect these countries’ economies, namely migration and terrorism. This opposition has been echoed by France, which emphasises that individual countries concerns are to be taken into account. Estonia voiced that the 2% GDP to increase military capability should represent the benchmark of the cooperation. Indeed, the United States and Poland argue that this would not impose an excessive burden on the Baltic countries, that are not indeed supposed to bear the military costs by themselves.
The second session of the NATO Council has been characterized by a great progress in the negotiations on the topic of Russian aggression in the Baltic States, which has raised great security concerns in countries bordering with Russia such as Estonia, Latvia, Estonia. However, disagreement persists on the means to employ to deter Russian aggression in the Baltic states. As the US stated, “when someone slaps in the face, you don’t shake their hands”. The United States of America, indeed, do not encourage the employment of diplomatic means with Russia, since its efforts to strengthen the ties with its former enemy have failed shortly after the presidential elections. However, the US has been accused of the inefficacy of the NATO organisation in the past. The global power has also been reminded that the efforts twenty-nine countries does represent a force that cannot be ignored by Russia. As Estonia has put it, “We have to prove Russia we are not the ones to mess with”. In the case of two cars driving towards each other, one being Russia and the other NATO, the one that has to step aside and prevent the clash has to be Russia. In essence, the more military power the NATO members can exercise, the more their diplomatic tools will be effective. Accordingly, this will occur only in the case that every country will increase their military capabilities and contribute more to the NATO organization. As it was discussed, the military expenditure of the NATO contributors should amount to 2% of their GDP. Notwithstanding these conditions, a working paper has been drafted, with Poland being the main proponent, on a possible resolution structured on different pillars. The first phase should consist of the employment of diplomatic means through the reform of the already existing NATO-Russia Council so that the Baltic countries have a bigger voice in the meeting and their interests are safeguarded. As many countries agreed, the Baltic countries need to be empowered, even in terms of infrastructure. Moreover, the second stage implies increasing the number of troops, which accordingly to Poland, represents a necessary measure. However, Germany, Italy, Greece raise concerns on possible misunderstandings by Russia and point out that “aggression should be not answered by aggression”. Nonetheless, the delegation of Latvia reminds that, as the priority of NATO organisation is defensive, the enlargement of military capabilities is necessary to achieve stability. Lastly, the working paper entails the triggering of Article 5 of the Treaty Organization, namely the military intervention of all the members in the case one is attacked. France has specified that the wording of the working paper has been purposefully vague to leave room for interpretation.
Under the initiative of the US, extensive discussions have been conducted on the issue of Russian interference in the domestic affairs of its target countries. Russian aggressive behaviour, indeed, can also shape in the form of cyberattacks. The proposed solution to this increasing threat has been identified through the implementation Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. Moreover, the spread of fake news in the Baltic countries due to the high numbers of Russian nationals also needs to be taken into account.