NATO Summit to redraw Alliance's southern flank

Until now, the Washington Treaty did not include the protection of Ceuta and Melilla from an attack


Madrid is preparing to host the NATO Summit, a meeting that will be held at an extremely important time following the geopolitical and security changes that the member countries have experienced as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In addition to the threats from the East, and under the pretext that Madrid is the city chosen to bring together NATO's international leaders, Spain has sought to emphasise the importance of looking to its southern flank. The reason for this is that, for the time being, Ceuta and Melilla do not form part of NATO territory, so in the event of an attack on either of these autonomous cities, NATO members would not have a responsibility to respond in the interests of common defence.


So far, it is Article 5 that governs the Washington Treaty, which states that any attack on a NATO member country would be considered an attack on all NATO members and they would have the right to respond.

This article extended exclusively to the Euro-Atlantic area, which included the European members of the Organisation, as well as North America, Turkey and the islands located north of the Tropic of Cancer, which meant that the Canary Islands already had this protection. However, this map left out the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, which means that if an attack were to be launched against these territories, NATO members would not be responsible for responding.

However, with NATO's imminent conclusion, a possible rectification of article 5 is beginning to emerge, as media outlets such as El País state that Ceuta and Melilla will have NATO's backing. They indicate that the new road map will defend "the sovereignty and integrity" of all member countries, which would include the two autonomous cities. In the same way, this measure will be applied in the new road map that is intended to be signed during the days of the summit.

TWITTER/ USS Harry S.Truman  - An F/A-18E Super Hornet, mated to a VFA-211 and a Spanish Navy AV-8B II+ Harrier in support of Neptune Shield 22

The same newspaper states that this new measure responds to the new security context that began to take shape as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They explain that this measure would not be part of a cession to Spain but would be a direct consequence of the new geopolitical panorama following the invasion.

On the other hand, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told EFE that he was "absolutely convinced" that NATO allies would "stand by Spain if it faces threats and challenges", when he was asked whether NATO would protect Ceuta and Melilla in the event of an attack.

He stated that "NATO is there to protect and defend all allies against any threat (...) we have clear commitments in NATO's founding treaty. We also have clear definitions of the geographic scope of the alliance. In the end it is a decision of the NATO allies".

AFP/JOHANNA GERON  -  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

"Spain is truly a highly valued ally and I am extremely grateful for that," Stoltenberg said, stressing the importance of NATO "in a more dangerous and competitive world".  

 Shifts in geopolitics in the wake of the Russian invasion 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been quick to respond to Putin's threats and aggression. Since the beginning of the invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to awaken an organisation that has been in severe crisis for years.

On 24 February, Ukraine awoke to the warning of anti-aircraft sirens and the first attacks of an aggression that continues to this day. Ukraine's president, Volodomir Zelensky, began to occupy the international media agenda overnight, condemning the attacks and calling on both the European Union and NATO to send military and economic aid. 

REUTERS/MARKO DJURICA - Ukrainian military inspect the area in front of a residential apartment building after it was hit by shelling as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kiev, Ukraine

From that moment on, both the EU and the Northern Alliance began a marathon race to achieve something that was not on the international agenda, namely increased defence spending and the importance of ensuring common security. In addition, countries such as Sweden and Finland have demonstrated their desire to join the Alliance, something they have tried to formalise in order to make it happen, in the face of Turkey's refusal, which for the time being has put the brakes on the entry of both countries.

In addition to these new measures, NATO could now extend its protection to Ceuta and Melilla, which would be a historic change in Alliance policy.

This gesture, loaded with political symbolism, is a forceful response and sends a clear message: NATO unity. Given Russia's previous illegal annexation of Crimea, as well as the situation in the Donbas, which demonstrates Putin's expansionist desires, the member countries of the Alliance will not be intimidated by present and future threats that endanger international security and defence.