News / Europe

Ukraine Crisis Seen As Wake-up Call for NATO

FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula has placed the spotlight on NATO. Experts say Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine was a wake-up call for the 28-member western alliance.

Charles Kupchan, NATO expert at Georgetown University, said since the end of the Cold War, the western alliance has been trying to redefine its mission.

“A few months ago, people were talking about an existential crisis for the alliance in the absence of the mission in Afghanistan - the bulk of NATO troops are scheduled to be out by the end of 2014,” he said. “And the question was, okay, what next? And now, I think there is a revival of NATO’s traditional mission of collective defense.”

NATO's collective defense

That policy stipulates that an attack on one member is an attack on all of them.

During a recent NATO meeting, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to collective defense, saying: “We will deter and defend against any threat.”

“We have already reinforced NATO’s presence on the eastern borders of the Alliance. We are flying AWACS surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania,” said Rasmussen. “We have more than doubled the number of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States.”

Poland and Romania are NATO members that border Ukraine on the west. Russia has amassed thousands of troops on its border on the other side of Ukraine, prompting some western experts to say an incursion into Eastern Ukraine is likely.

Charles Kupchan said NATO would react even more forcefully to protect its members.

NATO to increase defenses

“You would see a considerable expansion in the moves that NATO has already taken to beef up defenses on its eastern frontier, perhaps even including reneging on the gentleman’s agreement that was struck when central European members entered NATO, which was to say to the Russians we will not forward deploy substantial numbers of NATO troops in central Europe,” he said.

Kupchan says NATO’s reaction will be short of war.

“The prospect of a clash between NATO forces and Russia over Ukraine is effectively out of the question,” he said. “And that’s because there has been an assessment on this side of the Atlantic as well as in Europe, that what has happened and what potentially could happen in Eastern Ukraine, is not the stuff of war - that is to say war between western democracies and Russia.”

Russia's military capabilities are thin

Sean Kay, NATO expert at Ohio Wesleyan University, agreed. But he said Russian forces will have a difficult time if they enter Eastern Ukraine.

“There is not a lot we can do to stop them. But their military capabilities are actually pretty thin. They can do a thing like the Georgia war (2008) - that was a pretty small conflict with highly-trained integrated forces,” said Kay. “But to sustain a large deployment of forces over a very long period of time in a hostile territory - that’s going to be difficult for the Russians to do.”

NATO suspends cooperation with Russia

Charles Kupchan said: “For Putin to enter Eastern Ukraine, he opens a Pandora’s box. He risks a civil war on his border. He risks miring Russian troops in something that could look like another Afghanistan.”

As a result of Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, NATO has suspended all civilian and military cooperation with Moscow. NATO officials say they will review their relationship with Moscow in view of Russia’s actions.
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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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Comment Sorting
by: ScoobyDoo911 from: Moon
April 09, 2014 8:50 PM
Think about all the news, things that have been said, side blogs.

Now think about the articles and how we respond to them. What would happen if there was an unpublished article, that explained what all sides are really up to?

Is is wise for Ukraine, Russia, EU, NATO, USA, individual players to discuss matters that are close to the vest? No.

Why do countries have meetings in private, outside of the public, the media? It's so we can't comment right? Wrong! It's so they can either solve the problem, or dig in for the big fight.

by: U Thant Zin from: Burma
April 09, 2014 4:45 AM
If I were Obama or Chief of NATO, I'll deploy forces in Crimea & Eastern Ukraine in surprise and face Russian forces to save Ukraine.. Otherwise, Putin will occupy Ukraine part by part. If NATO do not dare to fight Russian forces, NATO will become Paper Tiger. NATO should deploy military base in Ukraine.

by: Not Again from: Canada
April 08, 2014 7:48 PM
If you look at history, the Russian empire never fought defensive wars/police actions. It is outright stupid to think that Russia, given its past history of warfare, would be involved in allowing protracted small unit actions for extended periods, just look at the war in Chechnya. As a matter of fact, Stalin faced exactly the type of counter-offensive activities, in Ukr, that Ramussen's wishful thinking envisages, guerilla type of activities; Soviet Forces faced units formed by Ukrainian nationalists supporting highly trained small nazi (German para) forces; the purpose of the nazi forces was to slow down Stalin's forces and allow nazi forces to retreat from the Baltic shores and not be cut off, they did achieve this at a very high cost to the Ukrs. Stalin's forces were rutless wipping out villages, towns, cities all the way into Poland's Warsaws outskirts. It was an offensive war with total obliteration of potenttial adversaries and their supporters, and complete territorial cleansings, by rearguard Soviet forces.
If the conflict, in Ukr escalates into a full war, it will be a very brutal conflict with very bad consequences for the Ukr, unless they are equipped with proper modern weapons (anti air/anti armour), because the Uksr are not likekly to give up like the Georgians did in a few days.
Only the enunciation of critical economy terminating sanctions, may possibly? avert the developing conflict. Not meaningless/useless/ill conceived ideas like stopping arms the second largest arms producer on the planet.

by: uh oh from: neverland
April 08, 2014 7:20 PM
Russia won't bow to illuminati, unlike America.

by: Anonymous
April 08, 2014 7:05 PM
Nazi? ... Umm Russia never was with Nazis. I assume you mean when Russia entered WW2 and let neighbors get slaughted by Nazis so they could take over? Russia is cunning and manipulative. They follow their own plans which... Involve ukrane. Already their spetznas are owning east ukrane and crimea

by: andy from: Nairobi
April 08, 2014 3:16 PM
Once up on a time there was a cock which used to rule over other animals via threatening that whoever to disobey him could be burnt to death by fire it had always carried on its head (red comb). To the surprise, one of the animals tried to steal the fire for cooking its food when the cock was asleep BUT to its shock, it came out to be confirmed that Mr cock had always used that just to threaten all the other animals so that it could remain a super power in the entire animal kingdom. In relation to mass people killings and dictatorial regimes in some countries such as Syria, Egypt, N.Korea, DRC, S.Sudan and now in Ukrain, we had always thought that its only USA with quick and enough treatment but to my shock, its on RED LINES, SANCTIONS, ISOLATION e.t.c. Thanks to the Russians, Chinese for discovering the status of the USA's red comb, we are also coming and we are behind you. The USA comb's fire left with the republican presidents, lets use this chance to conquer before they are back.

by: Randall S from: NYC, NY
April 08, 2014 1:48 PM
Russia has big plans. Namely, they want to conquer Eurasia.
And to do this, they are dusting off the old Nazi playbook. Not kidding...
In Response

by: Brad Richardson
April 08, 2014 7:37 PM
The wake up call was about 1980 when the the traitors of Europe opened the borders to non Europeans.

Now they want to stir up another war between Europeans. Maybe we deserve to die off if we cant understand this.
In Response

by: Matt from: England
April 08, 2014 7:08 PM
Yep, look at the Sudetanland in Ww2 and even Austria. Classic, politic destabilisation then annexation with promise of plebiscite. I can't believe Russia would move in the likes if Poland though. Against Europe and the US he would stand no chance.

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