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The Security Threat on NATO’s Eastern Flank – Change and Continuity in Perception and Policy
H.E. Artis Pabriks
Defense Minister of Latvia

Rachel Ellehuus
Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)


Thomas Silberhorn, MP
Parliamentary State Secretary, German Defense Ministry

As Europe prepares for the first NATO summit with US President Joe Biden, the focus has returned to the security threat on the Alliance’s eastern flank. The recent Russian build-up of armed forces on Ukraine’s eastern and southeastern border has once again underlined the difficulty of formulating a coordinated political and military response, especially when European allies are still in the process of establishing working relationships with the Biden administration.

At the same time, Western governments are grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a tectonic shift in US defense planning that is gradually driving attention and military resources toward Asian scenarios, especially those regarding a potential conflict with China. Together, these developments may confront many regions with difficult political and military choices – in particular, “frontline” states like those in the Baltic but also other key allies in Northern Europe.

At this event, we will discuss expectations for change and continuity in the new US defense and NATO policy and, specifically, how they affect Baltic security. We will also assess how the Biden administration, together with European allies, will position itself vis-à-vis an increasingly belligerent Russia. Will there be a reaction to Russia’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine or are Allies willing to return to normal after the immediate military threat has ceased? Which concrete initiatives, if any, is the German government planning for a renewed and improved security and defense cooperation with the United States? And, given Russia’s recent activities, is Germany ready and able to fundamentally rethink its threat perception vis-à-vis Russia?
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