In which direction will the most powerful military alliance in the world head over the next two years? The NATO summit in Warsaw on Friday and Saturday is supposed to show the way.

Here are the most important issues to be discussed.

Russia: The decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene in the Ukraine conflict two years ago was a shock for NATO. The alliance's eastern member states, such as Poland and the Baltic states, have felt threatened by their giant neighbour ever since. NATO has stepped up its presence in the region to reassure them, and leaders are expected in Warsaw to clear the way for more troops to be deployed. The move is expected to raise tensions with Moscow. The same goes for progress that NATO is due to mark on the creation of its missile shield in Europe, which Russia perceives as a threat. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will attend the summit.

Afghanistan: A number of countries participating in NATO's training mission in Afghanistan, such as Germany and the United States, had initially planned to whittle down their presence in the country this year. But continuing Taliban violence prompted a rethink, especially after the insurgents managed to temporarily overrun the northern provincial capital of Kunduz last year. NATO leaders are expected to promise Afghanistan continued support, including financial assistance for its security forces until at least 2020.

Fight against Islamic State: The US has long been keen to incorporate NATO in its fight against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, but countries such as Germany have been wary of the alliance's direct involvement. In Warsaw, the leaders are expected to take small steps, by approving the deployment of NATO surveillance planes near Syria and a return of NATO military trainers to Iraq.

Cooperation with the EU: The cooperation between NATO and EU has so far been largely limited to rhetoric because of long-standing tensions between NATO member Turkey and EU member Cyprus. But peace talks between Cyprus' Greek and Turkish communities have helped create a change. NATO has been assisting the EU with its fight against migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea and is expected to offer further support to the EU's Operation Sophia off the Libyan coast. The Libyan government would, however, have to ask for the NATO assistance. The military alliance is also keen to cooperate with the EU on hybrid threats and cybersecurity.

Defence spending: NATO states have set themselves to have their yearly defence spending reach 2 per cent of gross domestic product by 2020. But many allies are stagnating at levels under 1.5 per cent. It is expected that they will face pressure in Warsaw to do more.

Cyber: NATO countries are preparing for the possibility that wars will in the future also be fought in the digital world, for instance through hacker attacks that could paralyze electrical grid or communication technology. To better prepare itself against such attacks, the alliance wants to add cyberspace as a NATO operational domain. This will allow additional resources to be made available and cyberattacks to be handled like air, sea or land attacks would be.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.