Nato is facing the most challenging period of its 75 year history

8 July 2024, 14:01

Sir Keir Starmer will have his first test as PM on the world stage at a Nato summit later this week
Sir Keir Starmer will have his first test as PM on the world stage at a Nato summit later this week. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Born out of the rubble of the Second World War Nato will mark its 75th anniversary this week.

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But as the world's leaders gather in Washington they could be forgiven for putting away the party hats and the bunting as the alliance is under greater pressure now than at any time in its history.

The summit will mark the first glimpse of Sir Keir Starmer on the world stage and host Joe Biden will be closely watched for any signs that he is no longer up to the job as President of America.

This week, the alliance will welcome Sweden as the 32nd member of the club - an expansion brought about by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, occasioned by Moscow’s hostility to its efforts to join Nato.

But as we tragically saw in Kyiv today when Putin's rockets slammed into a children's hospital, the Russian bear shows no sign of being muzzled.

More and more European nations are reaching the target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence. Starmer himself has committed to spending 2.5 per cent on defence, but only “as soon as resources allow.”

But the biggest trouble spot for Nato will occur in November when America goes to the ballot box.

Former president Trump does not favour spending increasing sums on Ukraine’s defence, most of which has been provided by America.

And when he was asked if he would withdraw from Nato, Mr Trump made no commitment either way.

No doubt there will be lots of warm words and message of support for Ukraine emanating from this week's summit.

But if Trump wins, will he give Ukraine as much backing? Both politically and militarily?

Until that is resolved, Nato should keep the party balloons locked away.