3 sore spots in NATO’s space strategy

On January 17, the North Atlantic Alliance published NATO’s space strategy, according to which it intends to extend the principles of the organization’s collective defense to outer space. Including the fifth article, which provides for collective defense in the event of an attack on any of the countries of the alliance. The new document fixes the United States’ special position in the alliance, forcing allies to monitor joint satellites and take responsibility. But according to military experts, the weak point of this idea could be another manipulation of the Europeans by the Americans.

Lack of a legal framework for the deployment of nuclear weapons in outer space

It is known that the document was agreed back in 2019, but the decision to jointly respond to threats in space was only approved in June 2021 at the NATO summit in Brussels. NATO is legally prohibited from deploying weapons into space and conducting nuclear weapons tests. Apparently, they intend to bypass these nuances, says military expert Mikhail Tymoshenko.

Manipulation of NATO space forces in case of problems

Basically what we’re talking about here is that if Russia or China shoots down an American satellite, they reserve the right to shoot down ours, but not just the US, but all members of the military alliance should be outraged. That is, they are trying to show that outer space should be perceived as a NATO country’s territory. All this is, of course, quite complicated. Yes, they have a structure and technology similar to us, there are archivists who keep records of all space objects, including debris, but technically the process is provided by the efforts of one country – the United States, Tymoshenko explained.

Problems can arise precisely because of the monopoly of the United States in comparison with other NATO allies in space, stressed military expert Alexei Leonkov. In his opinion, this will create grounds for withholding information or manipulating it, since the Europeans do not have an arsenal and orbital groups comparable to NASA.

Vulnerability to NATO Orbital Groups

According to the US, its main hypothetical adversaries – Russia and China – are actively developing anti-satellite weapons, which will pose a serious threat to the alliance. For example, the inability of an orbital constellation of satellites can create problems for space navigation or missile attack warning systems. At the same time, the only country in NATO that can somehow control outer space is the United States. But it simply does not have the means to counter threats in space, – says military expert Mikhail Khodaryonok. — The Americans have some solutions at the research project level. They are developing the X-37-b orbital plane, which appears to be used for defense. Russia can still shoot down US satellites today, for example by withdrawing a group responsible for the use of high-precision weapons.

NATO has no space force, says military expert Dmitry Litovkin. They are separate from the American structure of NASA. In Russia – VKS, which has both carriers and trained personnel ready to perform the assigned tasks. Even the European Union has its own space agency, which can launch vehicles into space, weak compared to the US or Russia, but still. But NATO as a structure has nothing like that. Therefore, the expert says, it is clear that in case of any problem they will rely only on the United States and as a result they will rake in the heat with their own hands.

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