US envoy says NATO's new strategic concept will highlight Russia as preeminent challenge

US envoy says NATO's new strategic concept will highlight Russia as preeminent challenge

The US envoy to the alliance says that Russia will be the world's leading challenge and that the new strategic concept will highlight Russia as the preeminent challenge.

The United States Permanent Representative to NATO Julianne Smith said on Wednesday that NATO s new strategic concept will describe Russia as the main threat to the bloc, while China will make its first appearance in the document.

Speaking at a Defense Writers Group event, Smith said that even before the launch of Russia's military operation in Ukraine on February 24, there was a deep appreciation across the alliance that the language on Russia from 2010 was sorely outdated and needed a major upgrade. NATO's strategic concept was published in 2010, four years before Crimea voted to split from Ukraine and join Russia following the coup in Kiev in 2014. The document says that NATO-Russia cooperation is of strategic importance as it contributes to creating a common space of peace, stability and security. The alliance aims to increase political consultations and practical cooperation with Moscow as a result of its desire to have a true strategic partnership with Russia.

We agree that Russia is the preeminent challenge, the primary threat that the NATO alliance is facing in this moment, and because of that you will see a heavy emphasis on Russia right out of the gates at the top, Smith said.

She also revealed that the alliance's members agree that China needed to be part of the strategic concept for the first time. In June of last year, NATO heads of states and governments included a paragraph in the Communiqu - Communiqu a paragraph that said China's growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance. The new strategic concept is expected to be unveiled on June 29 -- 30 at the NATO summit in Madrid. Smith said the document is supposed to last for 10 years.

She said that NATO leaders will likely release a separate statement about the Russian operation in Ukraine and its implications for global security.

Russia has warned against the eastward expansion of NATO over the years, as it considers it a direct threat to national security. The possibility of Ukraine joining the alliance in the future was listed by Moscow as one of the reasons for the ongoing military offensive in the country.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive is unprovoked and has denied that it plans to retake the two republics by force.