NATO’s new front: Allied deterrence goes East

This event will be in Zoom

Going East has been a prominent feature of NATO’s post-Cold War history. The promise allegedly given to the USSR during the German unification debates that NATO would move ‘not one inch’ to the east has evolved into the proclamation to defend ‘every inch of Allied territory at all times’ in light of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The setting up of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Poland and the Baltic states offers a critical case for examining the changing understandings of allied deterrence in the post-post-Cold War era. eFP is a story of negotiating the strategic and symbolic logics of modern extended deterrence; the material enactment of a credible allied solidarity pledge in the exposed eastern flank; and the navigation of the alliance security dilemma in relation to Russia while buttressing the eastern allies’ physical and NATO’s ontological security. Drawing on the first phase of fieldwork of the RITUAL DETERRENCE project, Dr Mälksoo will offer some auto-ethnographic reflections as an Estonian critical security studies scholar on how the allied deterrence is built on her doorstep. This talk traces NATO’s extended conventional deterrence posture in the eastern flank from the adoption of the tripwire model shortly after Russia’s annexation of Crimea to embracing the forward defence stance in 2022. Dr Mälksoo will map the evolutionary curve of NATO’s post-enlargement politics of deterrence through documentary analysis and interviews with diplomats and military representatives in NATO headquarters and national capitals. Two highlights transpire for International Relations scholarship: the conceptual relevance of ritual theory to deterrence theory and the methodological importance of studying closely how deterrence is made to matter on the ground.

This event is sponsored by the British Academy, the Military War Security Research Group, Gender Politics research cluster and Newcastle University.

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