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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back