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NATO and increased tensions in Asia

  • Published
    1st Feb, 2023

A Four-day visit to South Korea and Japan by the head of NATO highlights the alliance’s strategic priority to push back against China and North Korea while addressing the global impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Europe and Asia connections:

  • NATO’s concerns about China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have led to this meeting with the Asian powers.
  • NATO also claimed that North Korea is helping Russia in its war against Ukraine.
  • South Korea has been supporting Ukraine with non-lethal aid.
  • It has also signed arms deals to provide tanks and fighter aircraft to NATO member Poland.
  • South Korean President together with Japan and Australia expressed the importance of improving security in the Indo-Pacific region together with NATO.
  • Both Japan and South Korea have expressed that security in Europe is linked to Asia, amid Russia’s close links with China and North Korea.

Threats in South Asia:

  • China interference: China has growing conflicts with both Japan and South Korea in the East Asia region. Hence, NATO’s security and military alliance can benefit both countries to plan against China.
  • North Korea’s inclination with Russia: Russia’s Ukrainian tactics were seen as a misdeed for European countries and affecting the world. So, in such a situation North Korea’s support to Russia will further ruin the relations.
  • Conflict in East Asia: The increasing conflict between East Asian countries regarding territorial disputes, fishing activities and ocean resources has worsened the situation for them.

Role of NATO:

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949, sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in central and eastern Europe after World War II.
  • It was the US’s first peacetime military alliance outside the western hemisphere.
  • NATO’s essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means.
  • It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. There are currently 30 member states.
  • North Macedonia is the last country to join NATO in 2020. Recently, Finland and Sweden have shown interest to join NATO.

Objectives of NATO:

  • Political objectives: NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
  • Military Objectives: NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.
  • These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO's founding treaty - Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.

Perspective on Extending NATO’s Membership to India:


  • The newer perspective of Non-Alignment: India’s refusal to join any military bloc at the time of freedom was based on non-alignment, but after the end of the cold-war during 1989-91 the situation changed. NATO has also built partnerships with many neutral and non-aligned.
  • Creation of Deterrence: Although India is capable enough to secure its borders, an alliance with NATO would create deterrence for China and Pakistan to attack India under the provisions of collective defence, laid in article 5 as discussed above.
  • Military-Strategic Benefits: India would derive military-strategic benefits from a partnership with the world’s most powerful alliance.


  • Conflict within NATO: NATO members have often found divided on how to share the military burden. Further, NATO members have also been found to disagree on policies related to Russia, the Middle East, and China.
  • Endangering Relations with Russia: By becoming a NATO member, India’s long-standing and strong ties with Russia may get deteriorated.
  • Threat to Sovereignty: An alliance with NATO might ask for the establishment of NATO bases on India’s territory and it may even be considered an infringement of our sovereignty.


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