Explained: What Russia Wants From NATO And What Has Been Its Response
Even after denying plans to invade Ukraine, Russia launched a full-fledged war on the country on February 24. Officials from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) called for an emergency meeting hours after the military operation was ordered to discuss the situation.
Why is NATO so concerned about the situation between Russia and Ukraine? To understand this, we must go back to the time when NATO was formed.
What is NATO?
NATO is a military alliance made up of the United States, Canada, France, and eight other European countries that was founded in 1949. NATO currently has 30 members, with 27 from Europe, two from North America, and one from Eurasia.?
The key purpose of NATO's formation was to create a "collective defence" against any potential German or Soviet Union attack in the aftermath of World War II. If a NATO member attacks another member, it is considered ‘an attack on all NATO members, according to Article 5.
It uses a collective security system in which its independent member nations pledge to mutual defence in the event of an external attack. It may also form alliances with outside forces.
Who controls NATO?
The Military Committee, NATO's highest military authority, is in charge of NATO's Command Structure (NCS), which is made up of the Chiefs of Defense of all twenty-nine member countries. Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Allied Command Transformation (ACT) are the two strategic commands that make up the NCS (ACT).
Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but had a long-standing intention of joining. This is a sore issue for Russia, which views NATO as a danger and opposes the move strongly.
Why is Ukraine not a member of NATO?
Ukraine is formally not a member of NATO, but it has long wished to join. In 2002, Ukraine's former president, Leonid Kuchma, indicated an interest in joining NATO. The main goal was to strengthen the military's support.
It is, however, one of the "enhanced opportunity partners" of the body. Non-member countries granted this status, that have "made important contributions to NATO-led operations and missions," such as Australia, are accorded this status.
A new country should be unanimously approved by Nato members, with issues such as "unresolved external territorial conflicts" being taken into account. Nato formed a Ukraine-Nato commission in 1997, which allowed for discussions on security matters and allowed the Nato-Ukraine relationship to progress without a formal membership agreement.
Nato's support is restricted without membership. It does not, for example, commit to sending troops to non-member countries. It has, however, dispatched troops to neighbouring nations and expressed public support for Ukraine.
What does Russia want from NATO?
Ukraine's separation from the Soviet Union and ties with NATO is at the root of the current tensions. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO moved eastward to include Baltic republics such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which were originally part of the Soviet Union. As a result, NATO, which was formed to fight the Soviet Union, drew closer to Moscow, bordering it directly.?
In 2008, NATO announced that it intended to enlist Ukraine at some point in the future. Because of the European Union's increased weapons, training, and people backing for Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin sees it as a direct threat to Russia's power in the east.
"Russia cannot stop Ukraine from getting closer with NATO and has no right to have any say in relevant discussions," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.
Russia's complaints of NATO have been particularly strident. Satellite photographs from November 2021 revealed a build-up of 1,00,000 Russian troops and heavy military equipment around Ukraine's borders. Russia issued an eight-point draft security pact for NATO by the end of December 2021.
The proposal included conditions such as prohibiting Ukraine from joining NATO, limiting NATO's future expansion, and prohibiting drills in the region, among others.?
Talks on the draft failed repeatedly, escalating tensions between the ex-Soviet neighbours. “Vladimir Putin reiterated the need for the United States and NATO to take Russian demands for security guarantees seriously,” the Kremlin said in a statement. The Russian Federation's Government is referred to as the Kremlin.
NATO’s response to Russia’s Demand
The US and its allies initially formally rejected Russia's demands that NATO withdraws from Eastern Europe and ban Ukraine from ever joining the alliance, but they identified numerous areas where they were willing to talk, including nuclear arms control and limits on military exercises.?
President Putin was given a choice in the written responses, which were issued separately by the Biden administration and NATO: enter negotiations with Washington and its allies, including Ukraine, or proceed with an invasion and face what the administration claims will be crippling economic sanctions.
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of Nato, has condemned the invasion as a "brutal act of war." Nato has already put hundreds of warplanes and ships on standby in response to concerns from countries in eastern Europe and will be raising force deployments in the region.?
The US has also pledged to send extra troops to the region, although President Biden has stated that they will be defending current Nato territory rather than fighting in Ukraine.
NATO's presence on its eastern European border?
Nato already has troops stretching from the Baltic countries in the north to Romania in the south. They were stationed there after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and their purpose is to act as a "tripwire" in the case of a Russian attack. It has naval vessels patrolling the eastern Mediterranean and "air policing" planes along its Russian border.
In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, Nato maintains four multinational battalion-size battlegroups, as well as a multinational brigade in Romania. France has also offered to head a future Nato operation in Romania, which might include 1,000 troops from a variety of nations. Nato might send up to 40,000 troops from the Nato Response Force to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Slovakia to form additional battlegroups.
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