NATO and NATO Plus

NATO and NATO Plus

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “NATO and NATO Plus”. The topic “NATO and NATO Plus” has relevance in the “International Relations and Current events of international importance” sections of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

What is NATO and who are its recent members?

What is NATO Plus and whether India is a part of it?

For Mains:

GS 2: International Relations 

Potential benefits and risks of India joining NATO Plus for Indian geopolitical interests


Why in the news?

Recently in March 2023, NATO and the U.S. House Select Committee expressed interest in engaging India more closely.


What is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)? 

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance between 31 North Atlantic countries –29 European and two North American. The headquarters of NATO is located in Brussels, Belgium.

  • NATO was formed in 1949 to defend its members against attack. It was created in the aftermath of World War II, and its members agree to defend each other if one is attacked. 
  • NATO’s fundamental purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.


Member Countries of NATO

    • 12 Founding Members– Belgium (1949), Canada (1949), Denmark (1949), France (1949), Iceland (1949), Italy (1949), Luxembourg (1949), Netherlands (1949), Norway (1949), Portugal (1949), United Kingdom (1949), United States (1949), 
    • Later Joinees- Greece (1952), Türkiye (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), Czechia (1999), Hungary (1999), Poland (1999), Bulgaria (2004), Estonia (2004), Latvia (2004), Lithuania (2004), Romania (2004), Slovakia (2004), Slovenia (2004), Albania (2009), Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017), North Macedonia (2020), Finland (2023). 
  • Presently, four partner countries have declared their intent to join NATO: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Sweden, and Ukraine.


What is NATO Plus?

NATO Plus is an alliance between NATO and five US allies, namely Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. 

  • The alliance was formed to enhance global defense cooperation and counter China. 
  • The alliance will focus on sharing intelligence, conducting joint exercises, and developing new technologies. 
  • NATO Plus is seen as a way to strengthen NATO’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region and to counter China’s growing military power.
  • Although the term “NATO Plus” is not an officially recognized or established concept within NATO itself, it has been used in discussions and debates about the potential expansion of the alliance. 


Benefits for India of joining such grouping:

  • India will have the opportunity to engage in joint exercises and training alongside NATO forces.
  • Access to NATO’s intelligence and surveillance capabilities will be available to India.
  • Collaborative efforts with NATO on research and development projects will be possible for India.
  • India’s ties with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region will be further enhanced through this collaboration.


Geopolitical Implications:

  1. Impact on Relations with Russia and China:
  • Joining any NATO framework would create discontent among Russia and China.
  • India’s solid strategic partnership with Russia, which has been instrumental in addressing regional security challenges and moderating China’s stance, would be at risk.
  • Despite Russia’s increasing reliance on China, Moscow remains a valuable partner for India.


  1. Concerns about aligning with the U.S.:
  • While it may be tempting to align with a U.S.-led alliance due to China’s threats, there could be adverse consequences.
  • Joining a military framework would limit India’s freedom of action and hinder its ability to pursue an independent policy towards China.
  1. Challenges to India’s strategic autonomy:
  • India has traditionally maintained a policy of strategic autonomy, allowing it to engage with nations and blocs based on its own interests.
  • Joining NATO would necessitate aligning defense and security policies with the alliance’s objectives, which may undermine India’s autonomy.
  • This decision could strain relationships with neighboring countries, regional organizations, and restrict India’s flexibility in engaging with other regional powers.


What is India’s stand?

  • India’s External Affairs Minister has firmly rejected the notion of India adopting the NATO template.
  • India’s primary focus should be on addressing its specific regional dynamics, which encompass various security challenges such as border disputes, terrorism, and regional conflicts. 
  • While NATO possesses capabilities to address some of these issues, its broader geopolitical agenda spanning from Eurasia to the Indo-Pacific may divert resources and attention away from India’s immediate concerns, rendering it less beneficial for India.
  • Currently, India’s engagement through the Quad (comprising India, Japan, Australia, and the U.S.) appears more promising than the lure of NATO Plus.


Source: India should refuse America’s ‘NATO Plus’ bait 


Q1. Consider the following: 

  1. United Kingdom 
  2. Mexico 
  3. Finland 
  4. North Macedonia 
  5. Sweden 
  6. Ukraine 

How many of the above-mentioned countries are members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as of July 2023?

(a) Only two

(b) Only three

(c) Only four

(d) Only five

Answer: (b) 


Q2. Consider of the following statements with reference to NATO Plus:

  1. The NATO Plus alliance has not been officially recognised or established within NATO. 
  2. The alliance was established to strengthen global defense cooperation and address the challenge posed by China.
  3. Recently, India has become a member of NATO Plus alliance. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only 

(d) 3 only

Answer: (a) 

Q3. What are the potential benefits and risks of India joining NATO Plus for Indian geopolitical interests?

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