U.S. Official Previews Upcoming NATO Summit in Washington

June 4, 2024 – Next month’s NATO summit in Washington is set to commemorate the alliance’s 75 years of peacekeeping and to strategize its future directions, stated Julianne Smith, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO.

In a detailed discussion with the Defense Writers’ Group, Smith emphasized NATO’s resilience, agility, and unwavering resolve. She highlighted the significance of the 75-year milestone, reflecting on NATO’s evolution from a 12-member defense alliance against the Soviet Union to a 32-nation stronghold.

“It’s an important moment to reflect on everything that the alliance has been able to accomplish,” Smith remarked. “We want to take a step back and help our publics understand the alliance’s agility, resilience, and relevance in 2024.”

Since its formation in 1949 to counter Soviet threats in Western Europe, NATO has navigated through significant historical events, including the Berlin Wall’s construction, the 1968 Prague Spring, the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, and the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1992. The alliance adapted to new missions in the Balkans in the 1990s and operations in Afghanistan post-9/11. Currently, NATO stands poised to defend its territory amid Russian aggression against Ukraine.

“NATO remains a military alliance, but it is also prepared to tackle new domains such as cyberspace, emerging technologies, and climate security,” Smith added.

Burden sharing among NATO members will be another focal point of the summit. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO leaders committed to allocating 2% of their GDP to defense spending. In 2014, only three nations met this target, including the United States. By 2024, 23 NATO allies are expected to reach or exceed this goal.

Smith emphasized the collaborative effort in supporting Ukraine, countering the misconception that the U.S. operates independently. “We will highlight the collective support from Europe, Canada, and the United States for Ukraine,” she noted.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to attend the summit, where NATO allies will present a comprehensive support package to bridge Ukraine towards future NATO membership. This will include resources for Ukraine and reaffirmation of NATO’s enduring presence to Moscow.

Smith also anticipates discussions on selecting a successor for Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and reviewing the operationalization of new regional defense plans, a major shift in NATO’s investment and procurement strategies aimed at enhancing deterrence and defense policies.

“The implementation of these regional defense plans will have a lasting impact over the next decade, despite being overshadowed by other pressing issues,” Smith concluded.–By Jim Garamone