NATO eyes new tech pursuits with Indo-Pacific partners at D.C. summit

Leading up to this week's NATO summit in Washington, senior U.S. officials previewed leaders’ schedules and reflected on the historical context of this gathering.
Security fencing set up outside the Washington convention center where the NATO summit will be taking place in Washington, DC, from July 9th to the 11th. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Beyond unveiling plans to expand military and financial support for Ukraine at NATO’s summit in Washington this week, the 32 nations that now make up the transatlantic alliance will host their Indo-Pacific partners to discuss new projects on cybersecurity, disruptive technologies and deterring China, senior U.S. government officials told reporters ahead of the multi-day event.

“We’re bringing together … some of our closest non-NATO partners to have a discussion around issues like resilience and cyber, disinformation, technology and the like,” a senior administration official said July 5. 

President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and many of their domestic colleagues and foreign counterparts are set to take part in this historic, three-day summit, which kicks off Tuesday and will commemorate NATO’s 75th anniversary. 

Broadly, the military alliance hosts these periodic meet-ups as opportunities for heads of state and other government leaders of member countries to connect in one place on key policy priorities — and ultimately agree upon and lay out strategic plans to guide their latest activities. This week’s gathering will be the first NATO summit held in Washington since 1999. 


This one will unfold against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine sparked by Russia’s invasion.

Top aims “include ensuring the implementation of new NATO plans for credible deterrence and defense, enhancing long-term support for Ukraine and fostering its future NATO membership,” Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters last week.

“During the summit, Secretary Austin will be engaged in discussions to ramp up transatlantic defense industrial production, ensure adequate defense investments from allies and the deepening of practical cooperation between NATO and its Indo-Pacific partners to include Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea,” he added.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity at another discussion last week, a senior White House official also pointed to that increased focus on the Indo-Pacific.

“This particular grouping of the ‘IP4,’ as we call them in NATO lingo — Australia, Japan, New Zealand, ROK — these are some of our closest partners that we work with in the region,” the official explained.


While NATO first signed formal agreements with the Indo-Pacific 4 in the early 2010s, this partnership was elevated through the inaugural participation of those countries’ leaders in the alliance’s 2022 summit, held in Madrid. The NATO and IP4 partners reaffirmed their ties at the conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, last year.

“I will say that we’ve got some new projects that we’re going to be talking about at the summit with our Indo-Pacific partners on resilience. So resilience in the region, supporting Ukraine, as I mentioned, countering disinformation, cyber — and then also on tech cooperation and emerging technologies,” the senior administration official said.

America’s docket for the meeting, according to that official, also involves plans to discuss China’s intensifying support for Russia’s defense industrial base.

“With something like 90 percent of Russia’s semiconductors coming from the [People’s Republic of China], 70 percent of its nitrocellulose, which is used for propellants — and a lot of its optics, machine tools, etc. — all of this not only fueling Russia’s war against Ukraine but also creating a long-term challenge for European security that, obviously, our allies recognize. And so we will have, I think, strong language on this to address,” the senior official said.

On the sidelines of the summit, they confirmed, Biden will host a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and nearly two dozen allies and partners who’ve signed bilateral security agreements with the war-torn nation.


Among other reveals and plans alongside its NATO allies, the U.S. is also poised to announce new steps to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses and other military capabilities in the near term.

“Together, the Washington summit will send a strong signal to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin that if he thinks he can outlast the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine, he’s dead wrong. We’re also going to send an important message to the rest of the world, including through our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, as we stand together united and in support of democratic values,” the senior administration official told reporters.

Brandi Vincent

Written by Brandi Vincent

Brandi Vincent is DefenseScoop's Pentagon correspondent. She reports on emerging and disruptive technologies, and associated policies, impacting the Defense Department and its personnel. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Brandi produced a long-form documentary and worked as a journalist at Nextgov, Snapchat and NBC Network. She was named a 2021 Paul Miller Washington Fellow by the National Press Foundation and was awarded SIIA’s 2020 Jesse H. Neal Award for Best News Coverage. Brandi grew up in Louisiana and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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