Nato summit 2014: What is the group and what does it do?

Leaders from the 28 countries which make up the group are meeting in Wales

Nato leaders gathered in Newport, Wales, on Thursday, for the start of a two-day summit dubbed the group's most important since the Cold War.

Behind over 12 miles of steel fencing, leaders plan to discuss Isis' advance across Iraq and Syria; the crisis in Ukraine and the nation's bid to join Nato; as well as the group's military mission in Afghanistan.

Issues including threats to national security in Nato countries, including cyber-attacks and terrorism, will also be up for discussion.

But what is Nato, and what is its role in the current global crisis?

What is Nato?

Its name, which stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was founded in 1949 - two years after the beginning of the Cold War - and is backed by the nuclear arsenal of the US, UK and France.

At its founding, Lord Ismay, the first NATO Secretary General, famously stated the group’s goal was: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

In 2010, Admiral Giampaolo di Paola, the-then chairman of Nato’s military committee, rephrased Lord Ismay’s original statement: “to keep North America in, Europe up, and Russia with”.

Read more: Comment: Nato must press on
Has the Russian Embassy trolled Nato on Twitter?
Nato summit: Army to sign £3.5bn deal to ‘ensure national security’

Who is a member?

The North Atlantic countries which founded the group include: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Over a course of decades, these nations were joined by: Greece, Turkey, Germany and Spain, and later, former communist nations including: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia.

However, Finland did not join its Scandinavian neighbours Sweden and Norway in the Nato alliance. After the 1917 Russian revolution, it won independence from Moscow but almost lost it again fighting the Soviet Union in WWII.

The country has therefore adopted a policy of staying economically close with the West while avoiding confronting Russia.

What will be discussed at the summit in Wales?

As the crisis in Iraq and Syria shows no sign of easing following the beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff, and the threat that a British aid worker may be next, the summit’s programme was hastily revised to include how Nato can bolster its existing operations in the region. Equipping Kurdish forces, sending humanitarian aid to besieged communities and intelligence and surveillance assistance will be on the agenda.

Ukraine joining other former Soviet Union nations in Nato will also be discussed – a particularly tense topic in light of escalating Russian military intervention in the east of Ukraine.

On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called Kiev’s ambitions to join Nato a “blatant attempt to derail” ceasefire talks in eastern Ukraine.

Undeterred, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko went ahead with a meeting with top Nato leaders.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Solar PV Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000

£14000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued success, this ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Design Consultant - Kitchens & Interiors

£12000 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: Solar PV Surveyor

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works