words matter

Daniel Parenkov

political scientistDaniel Parenkov

Daniel Parenkov

political scientistDaniel Parenkov

On June 29, the NATO heads of state and government approved the new strategic concept for the North Atlantic Alliance. The document sets out the NATO countries’ vision of their priorities and approaches for the coming decade.

It would be naive to underestimate the importance of the wording proposed in the strategic concept. Policy documents at this level inevitably indicate the direction of subsequent decisions. The tone of the text will be an important point of reference for the NATO bureaucracy. The members of the alliance who want to show their progressive commitment to the declared values, and those of those who do not want to be listed as “lagging behind” will correlate their statements and projects with the document.

For Russia, the text of the 2022 strategic concept serves as a signal of new risks and the strengthening of NATO’s anti-Russian focus at the strategic document level. The English version of the 2022 concept contains 14 references to Russia, as does the previous version of 2010. However, the context and tone of these references have changed radically.

NATO said in 2010 that it would “actively seek cooperation” and “strive to secure an agreement” with respect to Russia. It was said that “NATO’s cooperation with Russia is of strategic importance”, and for Russia itself “NATO poses no threat”.

In 2022, they decided to abandon the cunning words about the absence of a threat to Russia. But the Russian Federation has already been named the “most significant and direct” threat.

In a negative context, there was a mention of China in the strategy. In 2010, there was no place for it in the text of the concept. China, in cooperation with Russia, is now being called a challenge to NATO’s “rule-based order” and NATO’s “interests, security and values”.

It is important that the document also pays increased attention to threats in the space sphere, cyberspace and the sphere of foreign interference. Cyberspace is mentioned 13 times in the document (five in 2010). Space is discussed 10 times (in the previous concept, outer space was mentioned only once). Threats of foreign interference are mentioned seven times, while in 2010 nothing was mentioned at all.

The chains of further steps along these and other directions described in the document will change the reality of relations between Russia and NATO and NATO and China. By fixing its vision of risks and announcing measures to minimize them, NATO is pressuring both Russia and China to take revenge.

Given that NATO, in its assessments of potential threats, relies on its own level of technological development and available tools, among other things, the threats identified in the document will not be overlooked by NATO. Assuming that the alliance’s plans are “reflected” in the concept, then Russia and China (other countries are given only episodic attention in the document) must prepare for an intensified confrontation with NATO in space and cyberspace, as well as increase attempts to interfere in internal affairs of the members Alliance.

Daniil Parenkov especially for “Actual Comments”


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