State of the Order: Assessing June 2022

Reshaping the order

This month’s topline events

NATO Moves to Expand. NATO leaders, meeting at a summit in Madrid, formally agreed to invite Finland and Sweden to join the Alliance, paving the way for the admission of NATO’s newest members since 2020. The move came after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped his objections to the accession process when the two Nordic nations agreed to take certain actions to restrict terrorist groups, including PKK, a Kurdish pro-independence group against which the Turkish government has sought to clamp down.

  • Shaping the order. Sweden and Finland’s momentous decision to seek NATO membership, after decades of official neutrality, reinforces NATO’s critical role as an alliance of democracies aimed at defending its members against aggression. The move also represents a strategic setback for Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has been seeking to weaken and divide NATO and had warned against admitting the two nations, but now faces an Alliance that is perhaps more unified and determined than ever.
  • Hitting home. The addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO will bring in two new highly capable partners to help the United States defend against threats to American security, including those posed by Russia.
  • What to do. The Biden administration and other NATO governments should work with lawmakers in their countries to ensure swift ratification of the accession protocols required to admit the two new Alliance members.

EU Aligns on Ukraine. On a historic visit to Kyiv, the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy stood together with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they pledged to bolster assistance for Ukraine and announced their support for Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the European Union. The EU followed by granting the country “candidate status,” marking the beginning of what could potentially be a years-long process for accession. The European leaders later joined President Biden and other G7 partners for a summit in Germany at which they agreed to strengthen penalties against Russia, including banning Russian gold, cracking down on the Kremlin’s efforts to evade sanctions, and considering a price cap on Russian oil.

  • Shaping the order. The joint visit to Kyiv by the three European leaders showcased a remarkable degree of alignment with Ukraine, after it appeared that France and Germany were resisting Ukraine’s efforts to join the EU and pushing Ukrainian territorial concessions. The move to begin accession talks on EU membership marks a significant milestone, and, if approved, could deeply undermine Putin’s efforts to bring Ukraine into Russia’s economic orbit.
  • Hitting home. America benefits from working closely with the EU – which has a combined economy larger than the United States – to help support frontline democracies and stand up to autocratic aggression.
  • What to do. The Biden administration should continue to work closely with its European and G7 allies to provide military and economic assistance to Ukraine, while supporting Ukraine’s efforts to meet the requirements to become a member of the EU.

BRICS Stand with Putin. Vladimir Putin joined the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa at a virtual BRICS summit meeting organized by Chinese president Xi Jinping, giving Putin his most high-profile international engagement since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. Putin used the occasion to cite the “deepening cooperation” among BRICS members, as the five leaders signed a “Beijing Declaration” pledging to work together on supply chain resilience and digital trade. Iran and Argentina reportedly submitted applications to join the BRICS as well.

  • Shaping the order. The participation by the leaders of three rising democracies – India, Brazil, and South Africa – highlighted the failure of Western efforts to isolate Putin in the wake of his invasion of Ukraine. As India continues to increase its purchases of Russian oil, Putin suggested that Russian trade with BRICS countries jumped 38% in the first quarter of this year, providing the Kremlin with an important conduit to undercut Western sanctions.
  • Hitting home. Though they have led to higher gas prices for Americans, sanctions on Russian oil are serving to pressure the Kremlin to end its brutal war in Ukraine and constrain Russia’s ability to challenge US security interests.
  • What to do. Washington should seek new ways to incentivize India and other developing nations to join the West in penalizing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. Building on the global infrastructure initiative announced at the G7 summit, the administration should consider launching an ally shoring partnership that could reorchestrate supply chains to democracies willing to limit economic engagement with Russia and China.

Quote of the month

“At a time when the world is threatened by division and shocks, we, the G7, stand united. We underscore our resolve to, together with partners, jointly defend universal human rights and democratic values, the rules-based multilateral order, and the resilience of our democratic societies.” 

– Statement by the leaders of the G7, June 28, 2022

State of the Order this month: Strengthened

Assessing the five core pillars of the democratic world order    

Democracy ()

  • In a visit to Hong Kong to mark the 25th anniversary of the British transfer of the territory to China, Xi Jinping commended the city’s incoming Chief Executive John Lee, who oversaw the crackdown on political dissent that has left Hong Kong’s democracy in a state of disarray.
  • In Colombia’s presidential election, Gustavo Petro defeated Rodolfo Hernandez, a right-wing populist who once praised Adolf Hitler. But Petro, a former leftist guerrilla leader, is likely to pursue warmer relations with Cuba and Nicaragua and could strain the close US-Colombia security partnership.
  • Despite a boycott from Mexico and a few other nations, President Biden stuck to his decision to exclude the leaders of the hemisphere’s three autocratic dictatorships – Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua – from a Summit of the Americas that he convened in Los Angeles to discuss regional issues.
  • On balance, the democracy pillar was unchanged.

Security ()

  • Ukrainian forces withdrew from the city of Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, marking a significant gain for Russia as it continues its brutal war of aggression.
  • NATO agreed to strengthen its military presence in eastern Europe by deploying additional forces to Poland and the Baltics, and its invitations for Sweden and Finland to join the Alliance could help defend against security threats in northeastern Europe and the Baltic Sea.
  • China is building a secret naval facility in Cambodia, along the Gulf of Thailand, its second such overseas outpost (the other located in Djibouti) and the first in the Indo-Pacific region, a potentially important element of China’s expanding global military presence.
  • Iran switched off surveillance cameras used by the IAEA to monitor activity at the country’s key nuclear facilities and began installing advanced centrifuges at an underground enrichment plant, as multilateral negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear agreement struggle to make progress.
  • During a visit by Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro to Tehran, Venezuela and Iran signed a 20-year cooperation agreement, aimed at boosting strategic ties between the two anti-Western nations.
  • On balance, the security pillar was unchanged.

Trade ()

  • The EU granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, a significant step in what is likely to be a long process as both nations prepare to meet the criteria for joining the bloc’s common economic market and political institutions.
  • China has proposed a free-trade bloc among the five BRICS countries in a bid to enhance economic ties, as Russia suggested that the bloc create an international reserve currency as an alternative to the dollar.
  • G7 leaders agreed to explore a price cap on Russian oil, a measure aimed at limiting the Kremlin’s oil revenues and potentially holding down global oil prices.
  • Amidst an exacerbating food crisis caused by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, G7 leaders announced that they will contribute over $4.5 billion to address global food security, while calling on Russia to end its blockade.
  • With the prospect of EU membership for Ukraine and Moldova, the trade pillar was strengthened.

Commons ()

  • The CDC lifted the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test result before entering the United States, but a new more contagious Omicron variant began to spread around the world.
  • NATO released a report assessing the global security risks of climate change and announced a decision by allies to reduce gas emissions by at least 45% by 2030, and to net zero by 2050.
  • Overall, the global commons pillar was unchanged.

Alliances ()

  • In addition to inviting two new members to join the Alliance, NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept that calls Russia “the most significant and direct threat” to peace and security, and for the first time, cites China as a strategic priority.
  • The leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea also joined the meeting in Madrid – their first time participating in a NATO Summit – marking a significant elevation in efforts to strengthen cooperation between the transatlantic Alliance and its Indo-Pacific partners.
  • Demonstrating solidarity with Ukraine, the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy made a historic visit to Kyiv, before joining the United States and other allies at a G7 Summit to bolster support for Ukraine.
  • The leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa joined Vladimir Putin at a virtual BRICS summit meeting, undermining Western efforts to garner support from other democracies to isolate Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
  • On balance, the alliance pillar was strengthened.

Strengthened (↑)________Unchanged ()________Weakened ()

What is the democratic world order? Also known as the liberal order, the rules-based order, or simply the free world, the democratic world order encompasses the rules, norms, alliances, and institutions created and supported by leading democracies over the past seven decades to foster security, democracy, prosperity, and a healthy planet.

This month’s top reads

Three must-read commentaries on the democratic order     

  • Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, in Foreign Affairs, call for a new G-12 to institutionalize security cooperation among the US and its democratic allies across the Atlantic and Pacific and reinvigorate the rules-based order.
  • Michael Kofman, in The Economist, warns that NATO should avoid underestimating the threat of Russia as a long-term strategic competitor, despite its lackluster campaign in Ukraine.
  • Paul Poast suggests, in World Politics Review, that analysts may one day point to the 2022 BRICS Summit as the dawn of an alternative to the Western-led liberal international order. 

Action and analysis by the Atlantic Council

Our experts weigh in on this month’s events

  • Ash Jain and Matthew Kroenig co-authored two new Atlantic Council reports as part of a project on Shaping a New Democratic World Order. The first, A Democratic Trade Partnership: Ally Shoring to Counter Coercion and Secure Supply Chains, proposes an integrated framework for leading democracies and other partners to reduce strategic dependency on revisionist autocracies, coordinate on economic challenges, and foster free, fair, and secure trade. The second, Toward a Democratic Technology Alliance: An Innovation Edge that Favors Freedom, outlines the need for a Democratic Technology Alliance that would help the free world prevail in the race for advanced technologies by jointly investing in innovation, countering unfair practices, and developing rules and norms consistent with democratic values.
  • Fred Kempe, in CNBC, urges Western and Asian allies to work together through military, economic, and political means to stop Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine and ensure rule of law triumphs over rule-of-the-jungle.
  • Matthew Kroenig and Dan Negrea joined a panel discussion at the 2022 Copenhagen Democracy Summit and launched the Atlantic Council’s new Freedom and Prosperity Indexes.
  • Amanda Rothschild and Jeffrey Cimmino, in an Atlantic Council issue brief, present key recommendations for how US diplomacy can be strengthened in the twenty-first century.
  • Daniel Fried and Brian O’Toole, in the New Atlanticist, lay out a long-term strategy that the United States and its G7 allies can take to sustain economic pressure against Putin and his regime.
  • Melinda Haring, in the New Atlanticist, warns that, while Ukraine has succeeded in the first phase of the war, Russia has not abandoned its goal of crushing Ukrainian statehood.


The Democratic Order Initiative is an Atlantic Council initiative aimed at reenergizing American global leadership and strengthening cooperation among the world’s democracies in support of a rules-based democratic order. Sign on to the Council’s Declaration of Principles for Freedom, Prosperity, and Peace by clicking here.

Ash Jain – Director for Democratic Order
Dan Fried – Distinguished Fellow
Jeffrey Cimmino – Associate Director
Danielle Miller – Program Assistant
Otto Hastrup Svendsen – Georgetown Student Researcher

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Image: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu shakes hands with Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde next to Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto , Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after signing a document during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, June 28, 2022. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura