After an address by President Vladimir Putin, Russia declared a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Hours after the announcement by Putin, NATO officials called for an emergency session on February 24 to discuss the ongoing situation. As tensions revolved around the country, Ukraine, it is NATO who also raised concern about the most-feared situation.
Who is NATO? What does it stand for? Why it is so concerned about the Russia-Ukraine conflict?
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European countries and 2 North American countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization was formed to provide collective security to its allies. All those countries, who are involved in NATO will get all the privileges from the organization. The members of NATO independent member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. The members of the organization ahs a clear viewpoint. Members agreed that their aim is to reach or maintain the target defense spending of at least 2% of their GDP by 2024.
No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, the first operations, Anchor Guard in 1990 and Ace Guard in 1991, were prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Airborne early warning aircraft were sent to provide coverage of southeastern Turkey, and later a quick-reaction force was deployed to the area.
A total number of 30 countries are part of the NATO alliance as of now and they are Albania, Greece, Norway, Belgium, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Iceland, Portugal, Canada, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain, Estonia, Montenegro, Turkey, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, North Macedonia, and United States.
Apart from these countries, NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members but technically Ukraine is not a part of the organization. The tension arises here when Russia blocks Ukraine’s movement to NATO. Russia wants NATO to promise never to accept Ukraine.
Russia’s fear of NATO
Russia feared that if Ukraine joins NATO, it would become closer to Europe and build a warmer relationship with the United States- that would later become a setback for Russia. Russia believes that the Ukraine movement can put its security in danger as it directly makes the United States a strong backup for all the European countries which are part of the organization. Russia also wants to stop NATO from expanding its wings to the other eastern parts of Europe.
Earlier, Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kuchma expressed his interest in becoming a member of the organization in 2002. The main agenda behind this was to increase its military backup. Moreover, the organization has adopted an official promise. According to NATO, the organization’s membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.
NATO will stand for its member countries if a war or war-like situation occurs from any part of the world. It will come forward to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict between its members and other explicit countries. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.