News / Europe

NATO Plots Defense Against Russia

A freight car loaded with self-propelled howitzers is seen at a railway station in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Rostov region, near the border with Ukraine, August 24, 2014.
A freight car loaded with self-propelled howitzers is seen at a railway station in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Rostov region, near the border with Ukraine, August 24, 2014.

The 28 NATO members are preparing for their summit meeting in Wales in early September. The main topic of discussion: the notion of collective defense in light of Russia’s recent actions against Ukraine.

Simply put, NATO’s collective defense posture means that an attack on one of its 28 members is an attack on all of them.
 
In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance “must remain ready, willing and able to defend its almost one billion citizens.”
 
Rasmussen went on to say NATO leaders must take steps to make the alliance “fitter, faster, and more flexible to address future challenges from wherever they come.”
 
NATO's collective defense
 
NATO’s collective defense doctrine is in the spotlight, given Russia’s recent actions against Ukraine: its annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its backing of Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
 
Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressive behavior will backfire.
 
“President Putin’s strategy is going to be a strategic failure. In effect it is strengthening NATO, it is instilling more resolve in the alliance and will create even more cohesion than was the case before the events in Ukraine,” he said.
 
Russia’s behavior has also instilled apprehension and even fear in some countries - such as those in the Baltic States - that Moscow might try to invade a NATO country.
 
Sean Kay, a NATO expert at Ohio Wesleyan University, assessed the balance of forces.
 
“In terms of defending the NATO allies against Russia - the NATO allies have an overwhelming military advantage in terms of their combined capabilities,” he said. “The structure of power singularly is in the hands of the West. So it’s a question of how they want to best leverage the future relationship with Russia given its recent behavior.”
 
Stavridis agreed, saying: “I don’t stay up at night worrying about Russia’s ability to invade a NATO nation."
 
NATO asked to stand firm
 
But to allay the fears of those countries who feel threatened by Russia’s behavior, Stavridis said NATO summit leaders must take firm action.
 
“There should be an enhanced number of aircraft patrolling the borders of the alliance,” he said.

“We should have larger and more robust maritime deployments both north in the Baltic and south in the Black Sea. We should, in my view, support the Ukrainian armed forces with equipment, training, cyber support advice and help them prepare in case Russia takes the next step which would be an overt invasion of Ukraine," Stavridis added.
 
Looking ahead, Stavridis sees increased tension between NATO and Russia - but not a return to a Cold War era.
 
“During the Cold War, six million people faced off against each other across the Fulda Gap,” he said. “Huge navies patrolled the world and we were on a hair-trigger alert. We had nuclear weapons cocked, aimed, loaded and ready to fire, he said. “There were proxy wars around the world - it was the dominant political and military activity of 20 to 30 years. No, we are not headed back to that.”

NATO Plots Defense Against Russia
NATO Plots Defense Against Russiai
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Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

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by: Alex from: NY
August 26, 2014 1:25 PM
Theoretically, it's not that complicated.
Russia wants to make sure that (a) NATO bases will not be in Donbass (not to mention, in Crimea – the main reason it was reunited with Russia, although the most population of Crimea had been dreaming about the reunion for many years before March 2014 – based on my 2004 conversation with a native Crimean); (b) Russian-speaking population in Donbass won’t be terminated or suppressed by Ukraine’s National Guard (mostly comprised of the Right Sector ultra-nationalists) or an oligarch’s private army; (c) Russian-speaking population in Donbass will be given language rights, administrative autonomy within Ukraine and certain tax authority; (d) Russia will get its money for natural gas taken by Ukraine for free from the pipe.
In return, Ukraine probably will get (A) peace in its eastern part; (B) more or less favorable discount (to the price according to the existing contract between the two); (C) certain arrangements for payment of debts to Russia; (D) natural gas for heating Ukrainians and Europeans; (E) possibly some preferences (compared with the EU) for import of certain its goods to Russia, while enjoying the associate status with the EU; (F) jobs for Ukrainians within Ukraine and Russia.
However, the above conditions are against the DOS and NATO’s agenda. So, practically, at this point, an agreement between Poroshenko and Putin is very unlikely.

by: Ivan from: world
August 26, 2014 11:04 AM
Well, let's see, if I were Russia, and facing a clear and aggressive declaration from NATO, as seems to be the case, I will not waste a second to provide nuclear arms to anyone who is against my enemies - you know "my enemy's enemy is my friend." I don't believe the US and or EU should have a monopoly for causing troubles around the word, or invading other countries, or simply deciding who can or cannot govern, or what religion to practices. etc. So when NATO speak of enclosing Russia and threaten it with total annihilation (been there done that...) it should think twice about how such policies may boomerang against it.
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Heartland America
August 26, 2014 12:54 PM
Only in a tortured, twisted mind, does the defensive response of western Europe to Russia's buildup of military hardware, the buildup of aggressive rhetoric from the Putin and the repeated aggressive subversion of neighboring countries by Russian paramilitary forces constitute a threat against Russia requiring the threat of an unrestricted nuclear proliferation by Russia to its few remaining allies in world Communist domination, like North Korea.

by: Maliki Sayuki from: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
August 26, 2014 10:25 AM
Efforts should be done to de escalate the crisis in ukraine ..this will be achieved through dialog. War can't solve the problem!

by: krieg from: switzerland
August 26, 2014 9:20 AM
putin's action has amongst others, two important effects: 1) on the willingness by the eu to finally modernize its failing defence infrastructure 2) once done, on the ability to free american assets in eu to be deployed in the east against, so it appears, putin's ally unruly china in order to keep our our asian allies secure and cooperative.

by: pilgrim from: usa
August 25, 2014 11:57 PM
The meeting isn't until September, So how can NATO claim they are unified in a decision against Russia. Besides, Russia has been singled out to divert the world from what is happening in the middle east. If NATO really wants to stop problems occurring and try for World Peace they should be going in to IRAQ and fighting ISIS.

There is also the fact that Iran is against Israel, So with all the problems in Oil land, NATO needs to get its priorities in order and let Russia sort out its problem with Ukraine... Russia should be an allies not made to be the fall guy so Oblunda can feel good and let his Islamic colleges do as the please............

by: bohdan yuri from: U.S.A.
August 25, 2014 11:21 PM

From Crimea to present day eastern/southeastern Ukraine:

If Putin invades one time and no one stops him, he'll do it again...

...and again, and again. Until someone stops him.

What's so hard for the West to understand?

Ukraine can't defeat Russia by itself.

If they'd stopped Hitler before the Sudetenland, how many lives would have been saved...?

If they stopped Putin before Crimea, how many lives would have been saved....?

They're still counting.....
In Response

by: aaron from: gnome
August 26, 2014 7:58 AM
Wrong. Ukraine and Crimea are not NATO members...therefore NATO would never defend them, and they said that from day one before Russia even invaded Crimea, hello, what planet are you from. An attack on NATO isn't even a possibility for Russia, that would be a direct attack on the United States.

by: ROBERT STORMFIELD from: USA
August 25, 2014 11:18 PM

The communist dictator and ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin of Russia will not stop bullying Ukraine because he wants to force Ukraine into submission. The ultimate goal of Mr. Putin is to be able to control the affairs of Ukraine, first of all this man is wrong. He cannot try to control an independent and sovereign nation. Just because Ukraine at one time in the past was a republic of Russia Putin, like a mother worried about her grown up children, is worried about what Ukraine is doing. Possessive and controlling parents do not fare well. This man must stop trying to control the affairs of an independent and sovreign nation like Ukraine. He must stop.

by: smilingdon from: orange park, Fl
August 25, 2014 11:08 PM
And the president is worried about all the illegals Mexicans?

It's time to wake up Mr. President and figure out what is going on around the world in plain sight. Oh yeah, get off the golf course to take a look around.

In Response

by: Aaron Schmitz
August 26, 2014 8:00 AM
First of all he knows exactly what's going on, much more so than you and Crimea and Ukraine are not on our agenda to defend, they are not NATO members. You should read some books or something. Oh and nobody vacationed more than Bush, during 2 wars in which 100's of thousands of our young men were dying on the front lines in pointless wars against countries that never attacked us all on borrowed trillions from China at 40% interest. AT least we have a more intelligent President now.

by: Not Again from: Canada
August 25, 2014 10:44 PM
Russian actions demonstrate clearly that NATO's deterrent value is not of sgnificance to Russian risk or expansionist calculations.
The EU is the core part of the NATO alliance, and is in fact the core problem of NATO. The EU members of NATO have no credibility because of their deep defense cuts; an issue that would now take a massive reallocation of priorities/resources to totally renovate the EU's military/deterrent capabilites and upgrade them and it would require 5-7 yrs at least.
More and more US taxpayers, and also military experts are expressing dis-satisfaction with the NATO partnership, and not just Russians, but also many in the US and Canada see NATO as an organiztion way beyond its best before pull date; the biggest failure are countries like Germany, which just never really invested much into renewing its military; Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal... all of them just fell way behind; and their intentions, by cutting orders on programs like the F35 JSF, just gives a clear indication of their continued plan to even fall further behind; they continue to expect to ride on the backs of US taxpayers.
The Russians, as any one else, can see the EU NATO's depth of committment, by looking at their ageing equipment.... and if one looks at their announced budgets, the picture is crystal clear, no money for deterrence..never mind resources to prevent a war.

by: Mark from: Virginia
August 25, 2014 9:25 PM
the very existence of NATO remains a source of distrust and suspicion for the Russians. NATO was formed to protect Europe from suspected Soviet threats. When the Soviet system collapsed, there should no longer have been a need for NATO, its purpose dissolved, its race having been run, no longer required. The U.S. and many Europeans countries did not fully trust the 'new' Russian state, and so NATO continued.
Our very perception and reliance on NATO is what is keeping the rift between East and West alive. In the eyes of the Russians, they don't feel that the West trusts them enough to dump NATO, we never gave them any reason not to feel this way. The USSR was isolated for nearly 50 years by the opposing rhetoric and ideology between East and West, and once the USSR fell apart and the Soviet system collapsed, Russia still feels isolated, because NATO still exists. We (meaning the West) even had the gall to invite Russia into NATO, an organization they have viewed, for over 50 years, as being against everything they believed in, a hated and despised organization.
Now, I am no expert on all of this, just an observer who tries to see things through the eyes of every side as clearly as I can. I also have a big interest in history, particularly 20th Century history, wars and aftermaths of wars and conflicts. So, opinions are solely mine. They are not indicative of any thoughts and opinions of persons, living or dead, nor policies and politics of the same.
No kittens were harmed in any way in the making of this post.
(Selfless brevity ends now)
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Heartland America
August 26, 2014 1:32 PM
Putin is currently working very hard to revive the Soviet Union by trying to coerce former Soviet Republics back into the disbanded alliance. So, the need for NATO is now more important than ever, given the more advanced war-making technology being developed by Putin's Russia since the disbanding of the USSR under more enlightened Russian leaders.
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