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A 21st Century Iron Curtain? Looking at the Future of NATO

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has profoundly altered the European security order and ushered in what is effectively a 21st century iron curtain over the continent. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must now reconsider both its strategic confrontation with the Kremlin, and how it upholds the alliance’s promise of collective security.

Greater pressure has been put on NATO member states who are on the frontline, including Bulgaria and Estonia. Frontline states now require more support from the alliance to uphold Article 5 of NATO’s charter. Many of these states have also taken in a disproportionate number of refugees and asylum seekers from Russia and Ukraine. These economic, social, and security challenges raise questions of the changing nature of the NATO alliance and how its member states collectively respond to the threat of a more aggressive Russia.

This event will convene the next generation of NATO’s leaders to discuss Western policy options, and how NATO member states can maintain a unified transatlantic response to Russian aggression.

This event was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State – NATO Mission. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State


Tiina Uudeberg, Undersecretary for Defence Planning Estonian Ministry of Defence

Tiina Uudeberg has held the position of Undersecretary for Defence Planning at the Estonian Ministry of Defence since February 2021. The Undersecretary for Defence Planning is responsible for defence and capability planning, defence investments, defence budget, defence R&D, and industry policies. The Undersecretary coordinates the Defence Planning Department’s and the Defence Investments Department’s work and exercises oversight over the National Defence Investment Centre.

Ms. Uudeberg joined the Ministry of Defence in 2004 after finishing her BA studies. She worked for five years at the NATO and EU department at the MOD, contributing to the formulation of Estonian positions in NATO in various work strands.

In 2010, Ms. Uudeberg joined the Estonian Permanent Representation to NATO as a diplomat. She was a senior representative in resource issues until 2014, serving as the Head of the Resource Section and Estonia’s representative at the NATO Resource Policy and Planning Board (RPPB) and Budget Committee (BC). Her work included planning and oversight of NATO common-funded budgets, major capability development and programs (medium-term resource and financial plans), budget negotiations, and audits.

In 2014, Ms. Uudeberg joined the Defence Planning Department as a Deputy Director. In 2015, Ms. Uudeberg became the Director of the Defence Planning Department. While holding that position, she was responsible for coordinating national capability planning, preparing and executing the defence budget, organizing financial affairs, and coordinating Estonia’s participation in NATO defence planning. As the Director of Defence Planning Department, Ms. Uudeberg coordinated and participated in several activities, programs, and projects nationally, regionally, and in a broader international arena. She has regularly represented her country in various negotiations and formats such as Baltic cooperation, Nordic-Baltic cooperation, NATO, the European Union, and bilateral formats.

Tiina Uudeberg holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations (minoring in Economics) from the University of Tartu. She has participated in numerous defence policy and defence planning related courses, and in 2017 she graduated from Newton Leadership Programme (organized by the Civil Service Excellence Centre of Estonia’s Government Office), tailored for future senior executives in the public sector. In June 2021, Ms. Uudeberg will graduate from National Defense University (Eisenhower School) in the United States, receiving an MSc degree in National Strategy and Defence Resource Management.

Ms. Uudeberg has received several honours and decorations, including the National Order of the White Star, V class (2018), and Estonian Ministry of Defence’s Cross of Merit, III class.

Tiina Uudeberg is fluent in Estonian and English and has a satisfactory command of French and Russian.


Yordan Bozhilov, Deputy Minister of Defense, Republic of Bulgaria

After graduating from university and completing compulsory military service, Mr. Bozhilov began work as an expert at the Ministry of Defense in 1992. He successively occupied various positions in several MoD structures, to include chief expert, head of department within the Administrative and Information Services Directorate, Head of the International Organizations and Arms Control Department, Director for International Cooperation, Deputy Director for Security and Defense Policy, and Head of the Political Cabinet of the Minister of Defense. In 2013, Mr. Bozhilov left the Ministry of Defense and started work with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Since 2018, he has engaged in research, consultancy, and teaching.

Yordan Bozhilov is the founder and first chair of the Sofia Security Forum, which specializes in research and events in the field of security, defense and international relations.

Yordan Bozhilov has a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Moscow State University (1991) and a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of National and World Economy (2000). He has completed courses and specializations at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, the George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies in Germany, and the NATO Defense College in Rome. He speaks English, French, and Russian.


Pedro Pizano, Program Manager for the Democracy & Human Rights Programs

Pedro Pizano is a Program Manager for the Democracy & Human Rights Programs at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington D.C. He previously served as the Northwestern-McCain Public Interest Legal Award Fellow and the International Criminal Law Fellow and Human Rights Journalism Fellow at the McCain Institute and ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s International Rule of Law and Security (IRLS) Program, under Amb. Clint Williamson.

In 2018, Pizano graduated cum laude and with honors with a dual J.D./LL.M. in international human rights law from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, Ill. He was the executive editor of the Journal of Human Rights and the co-founder of a debate club: The Speakers Union. He was jointly appointed by the presidents of both the Northwestern Federalist Society and the Northwestern American Constitution Society, as the co-chair of the Civic Education Committee, as Northwestern Law was one of the law schools, if not the first, to cancel classes on election day so students, faculty, and staff could volunteer as poll watchers and officials, and reinforce our shared common civic liberal democratic responsibilities.

Before law school, Pizano earned a joint certificate in international human rights law from Oxford University and George Washington University’s law school. Prior to that, he worked for three years as the global media liaison and strategy and development associate at the Human Rights Foundation and Oslo Freedom Forum in New York City. In 2013, he was recognized as one of the 99 under 33 most promising young professionals in foreign policy by the Diplomatic Courier. His opinions and byline have appeared in, among others, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Slate, Forbes, El Tiempo, El Mundo and the BBC. He was born in Bogotá, Colombia and is also a native Spanish speaker, fluent in French, and knows basic Arabic.

McCain Institute
Jun 1, 2022
11:00am ET