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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Life and Style
life + style
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor