The Daily Telegraph
Nato members pledge to be allies in space
Article 5 – the alliance’s collective defence clause – will now also apply to the ‘fifth domain’
An attack in space against one Nato member will be considered an attack on all members, alliance leaders said following a summit in Brussels. Article 5 of Nato’s founding treaty, mandating collective military action, previously applied to attacks on land, sea or in the air. The leaders said attacks into or from space could be a challenge that threatens “national and Euro-atlantic prosperity, security, and stability, and could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack”.
NATO leaders have pledged to respond collectively to attacks in space, meaning an attack on one member will be considered an attack on all.
Article 5 of the alliance’s founding treaty, mandating collective military action, has previously only applied to more traditional military attacks on land, sea, or in the air. In December 2019, space was declared by Nato as the alliance’s “fifth domain”.
Around 2,000 satellites orbit Earth, and more than half are operated by Nato countries. Military commanders rely on some of them to navigate, communicate, share intelligence and detect missile launches, while civilians use them for everything from mobile phone and banking services to weather forecasts.
In a statement released after the summit in Brussels, the leaders said they “consider that attacks to, from, or within space” could be a challenge to Nato that threatens “national and Euroatlantic prosperity, security and stability, and could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack”.
“Such attacks could lead to the invothat
cation of Article 5. A decision as to when such attacks would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-bycase basis,” they said.
Nato’s collective defence clause has only been activated once, when the members rallied behind the United States following the 9/11 attacks.
Joe Biden said that Article 5 was “a sacred obligation” among allies, adding: “I just want all of Europe to know that the United States is there.”
At a press conference after the summit the US president also endorsed Nato’s cyber defence policy.
A communiqué issued by the alliance noted that “significant malicious cumulative” cyber attacks could be considered “an armed attack”, which could also trigger Article 5 “on a case-by-case basis”.
Nato leaders agreed that China’s military power presents a “systemic challenge” to the alliance, the first time such potentially inflammatory language has been applied to Beijing’s armed forces.
Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said China’s “AI and autonomous systems are changing the nature of warfare in a way never seen before”.
The language in the summit’s final
communiqué, which will set the path for alliance policy, comes a day after the G7 issued a statement on human rights in China and Taiwan that Beijing said slandered its reputation.
The focus on Beijing will be seen as a victory for Mr Biden’s administration, which was pressing other leaders to adapt Nato capacities to counter China, whereas European leaders are more worried about the threat from Moscow.
Boris Johnson, who attended the summit, insisted that Nato did not want a Cold War with Beijing. The Prime Minister said: “I don’t think anybody around the table today wants to descend into a new Cold War with China.
“I think people see challenges. They see things that we have to manage together. But they also see opportunities and I think that what we need to do is do it together.”
Mr Johnson added that Mr Biden would be taking “pretty tough messages”
to Vladimir Putin when he meets the Russian leader in Geneva tomorrow.
He said: “I’m always hopeful that things will improve with Russia but... I’m afraid that so far it’s been pretty disappointing from the UK point of view.”
Mr Biden said he would make clear to Mr Putin, whom he called a “worthy adversary”, that there are “areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses”.
He added: “And if he chooses not to cooperate, and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.”
Looming large at the summit was also the scramble to complete Nato’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan after Mr Biden surprised partners by ordering US troops home by Sept 11 this year.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, said his country would expect “diplomatic, logistical and financial” assistance from the US if it was to maintain a presence in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Nato troops.
Turkey is reported to have offered to protect Kabul’s international airport after the departure of the Nato force.
Mr Biden said he had a “very good” talk with Mr Erdogan on the sidelines of the summit.
‘Attacks to, from, or within space… could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack’