Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO, the post-World War II alliance created between a victorious America and the conflict-torn countries of Western Europe, has often been called a relic of the Cold War.
Former US President Donald Trump’s favorite adjective for NATO in the campaign trial was “outdated”. Two years ago, French President Emmanuel Macron declared the organization “brain dead”. NATO was ridiculed by other critics as an alliance in search of a mission – the ridicule of Western alliance officials who forever threw out strategic idea papers that tried to define the alliance’s purpose after the Cold War.
No explanation now seems needed for NATO missions, thanks to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who appears to have given the Western powers the opportunity to revive the Western alliance, according to Ian Bremmer, a US political scientist and founder of the Eurasia Group, a political risk. research and consulting companies.
Canadian troops from the NATO-reinforced battle group ahead are currently attending a meeting with Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand, in Adazi, Latvia, on February 3, 2022.
“Putin is strengthening NATO on his own,” Bremmer tweeted, announcing that allies are putting more forces on alert and strengthening Eastern European countries with more ships and fighter jets in response to Russia’s military build-up at Ukraine’s borders in what historians say is the largest deployment of forces since 1945.
“So far, the primary geopolitical effect of the Russian escalation of the Ukraine conflict has been to strengthen NATO,” he added. If one of Putin’s goals with the military build-up is to weaken the Western military alliance, it seems to strike back, Bremmer and others say.
Transatlantic differences had long followed NATO.
FILE – Ambassador Kurt Volker, former Special Envoy to Ukraine, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 19, 2019.
“These differences can be traced back to US decision under President George W. Bush to invade Iraq, continued during President Barack Obama’s” nation-building at home “and” pivot to Asia “, and deepened under President Trump’s” America First “policy “, said Kurt Volker, a former US envoy to NATO, a year ago in a comment entitled” Reviving NATO will not be easy. “
When it comes to Russia, China and defense spending, the United States and European allies have large, deep-rooted material interests and in some cases serious differences. Bridging them really requires a better tone. But it will also take Europe to adopt a more global and strategic approach than it has done in recent years, or it will disappoint the Biden administration as much as it did its predecessors, Volker warned.
What a difference a crisis makes! Despite disagreement over the tactics used to deter Putin from further military intervention in Ukraine – something that Russian officials deny is being considered – many longtime NATO observers have praised Washington for what it says is a good job of keeping NATO allies united in response to Russia’s threat to Ukraine.
Bremmer suspects that this may have surprised the Russian leader.
“Certainly not what Putin expected given US unilateralism in Afghanistan’s withdrawal debacle,” he said, referring to the Biden administration’s decision last year to leave Afghanistan in what some NATO allies considered an ill-planned and premature evacuation.
Military personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps board a C-17 transport plane for deployment to Eastern Europe, amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on February 3, 2022.
Like others, he believes that Putin may have expected that there would be many more NATO divisions than have emerged so far, not only in view of the lingering European frustration over the Afghan withdrawal but also in view of the retirement of the experienced Angela. Merkel from German politics and French President Macron’s unpredictability and advocacy of an EU-based defense alliance to replace NATO.
Benjamin Haddad, senior director of the European Center at the Atlantic Council, a research group in New York, recently told VOA: “Putin may think this is the right time to act, with Germany going through a political transition and with France heading for an election. . ‘ He added, “But I think it would be a miscalculation.”
FIL – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz makes a gesture when he speaks at a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, December 21, 2021.
Haddad has claimed since the beginning of the year that Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, will “want to show the Biden administration that Germany can be a good transatlantic partner”, despite serious divisions within his governing coalition and his own Social Democratic party.
Last month, some NATO members identified Germany as the weak link in the alliance, and criticized it for not seeming to share the same sense of urgency about Russian military threats as the United States and neighboring European nations show.
There are still frustrations with Germany over its refusal to send deadly weapons to Ukraine and to block others from supplying Kiev with German-made military equipment. And Scholz, who is trying to balance his country’s membership in the Western alliance with its close ties to Russia, is still criticized for his ambiguity over whether Berlin is prepared to cut off the recently completed Nord Stream 2 submarine pipeline, which will pump natural gas, in the event of war. from Russia to Germany.
But some NATO and EU officials say Scholz is increasingly forced to align with the United States and other NATO countries because of Moscow’s increasingly belligerent language and aggressive behavior.
Ursula von der Leyen, who is the President of the European Commission and former German Minister of Defense, emphasized on Thursday that Nord Stream 2 would need to be sanctioned if Russia invades.
FIL – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks in Brussels, Belgium, 2 December 2021.
“Nord Stream 2 can not be excluded from the list of sanctions, it is very clear,” Von der Leyen said in an interview with Handelsblatt and Les Echos. The President of the Commission said that the future of the pipeline, which has not yet received official approval in Berlin or Brussels, would depend “on Russia’s behavior.”
On nuclear issues, NATO leaders are united – they have agreed as non-starters to reject Russia’s demand that there be no further expansion of the Western alliance, and they have all firmly refused to withdraw the alliance’s military presence. in the former Soviet satellite states of Central Europe.
And they have all warned of serious consequences if the Kremlin decides to carry out another attack on Ukraine during a repeat of 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and used armed agents to seize much of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which borders to Russia.
Russia’s military build-up has also revived talks in Finland and Sweden on joining NATO.
FIL – Finnish President Sauli Niinisto speaks at a session of the International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk, Russia, on March 30, 2017.
This year, the President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, reiterated his country’s right to join NATO if it so decides, a blank rejection of Russia’s demand that NATO not admit any new members. In a New Year’s speech, the Finnish leader said: “Finland’s room for maneuver and freedom of choice also include the possibility of military adaptation and applying for NATO membership, should we decide for ourselves.”
Former US diplomat Daniel Fried, who served as Deputy Foreign Minister for European and Eurasian Affairs and is a former ambassador to Poland, says that although the instincts of European NATO members are alarming, he does not get the impression that Europeans will cut and run and give Putin his will.
“I just do not understand that sentence,” he said.
“It would have a greater impact if all NATO countries sent equipment to Ukraine, but it is not uncommon for some member states to do certain things and others not,” said David Kramer, who was deputy secretary of state in the US administration. President George W. Bush. “There have been a number of NATO operations in which not all member states participated,” he added.
Hans Kundnani, a director of Britain’s Chatham House, said: “It is not necessarily a problem to have different parts of the coalition, so to speak, different heads of government, trying different approaches to Russia. It is not necessarily a problem if they are coordinated. .