The NATO summit in Vilnius: safeguarding the alliance, supporting Ukraine

Past event Online

Peace, Security & Defence
The NATO summit in Vilnius: safeguarding the alliance, supporting Ukraine


The NATO 2022 Strategic Concept adopted at the last year’s Madrid summit offers a rather grim description of our security environment:The Euro-Atlantic area is not at peace. Euro-Atlantic security is undermined by strategic competition and pervasive instability. The Russian Federation poses the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security.” These sobering words serve as a grim indicator that the NATO summit in Vilnius occured at a critical juncture in the history of the alliance.

In Vilnius, the allies found themselves grappling with the multifaceted challenge of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine while simultaneously working to implement the ambitious 2022 Strategic Concept. These circumstances have given rise to difficult questions and dilemmas to be tackled at the summit. At the forefront of the agenda was the necessity to ensure continued military support for Ukraine, as well as the determination of Kyiv’s future within NATO, building upon the commitment made at the 2008 summit in Bucharest. Furthermore, as the security landscape in Europe continues to deteriorate, the allies needed to revamp NATO’s command structure and formulate new defence plans aimed at strengthening NATO’s defence and deterrence capabilities, with a particular focus on bolstering its eastern flank. Recognising that these decisions will carry a significant financial burden, it was also expected that a new defence investment pledge will be adopted, going beyond the 2% of GDP agreed at the Wales summit in 2014.

This event offered expert analysis of how the NATO leaders in Vilnius approached these daunting challenges, assessing whether the solutions adopted are sufficient for securing the alliance, ensuring long-term commitment to Ukraine’s defence and adapting the alliance to the challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, disruptive technologies and systemic rivals like China.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Gints Ivuskans/Shutterstock



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Carisa Nietsche

Associate Fellow for the Transatlantic Security Program at the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS)

Show more information on Carisa Nietsche

Carisa Nietsche is an Associate Fellow for the Transatlantic Security Program at CNAS. She specialises in Europe-China relations, transatlantic technology policy, and threats to democracy in Europe. In July 2021, Nietsche was named the 2021 recipient of the 1LT Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., USA Award. Nietsche previously worked with the Brookings Institution’s communications team and the Wilson Center’s Global Women’s Leadership Initiative. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Politico Europe, Foreign Policy, Journal of Democracy, The Diplomat, and The Hill, among others.

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for European and NATO policy at the United States Department of Defense, Trustee of Friends of Europe and lecturer on world affairs and Russian history

Show more information on Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan previously served as the deputy assistant secretary of defence for European and NATO policy at the Pentagon, following a distinguished career in the US Air Force and Senior Executive Service. His extensive background in world affairs includes previous service at the United States Mission to the European Union, European Command Headquarters (USEUCOM) and Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as NATO headquarters. A former fellow specialising in national defence at the US Congress, he has also lectured extensively throughout Europe and the US. Ryan began his career as a fighter pilot flying an A-10 in Europe during the Cold War.

Photo of Jamie Shea
Jamie Shea

Senior Fellow for Peace, Security and Defence at Friends of Europe, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Show more information on Jamie Shea

Retiring from NATO in September 2018 after 38 years at the organisation, Jamie Shea has occupied a number of senior positions at NATO across a wide range of areas, including external relations, press and media, and policy planning. As NATO’s spokesperson, he was the face of the alliance during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts. He later worked as the director of policy planning in the private office of former secretary general Rasmussen during the preparation of NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept. Shea is also a regular lecturer and conference speaker on NATO and European security affairs.


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