NATO enlargement and the peace of Europe


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit ended without significant results. The question of Ukraine’s membership in the meeting again remained in limbo. When the leaders of the world’s largest military organization met on Tuesday in Vilnius, the capital of the European country of Lithuania, the main question for them was the inclusion of Ukraine in NATO. Apart from this, the question of how to deal with the war between Russia and Ukraine and the resulting conditions was also before him. But on both questions the world leaders could not come to a conclusion.

Last year, at the Madrid summit, NATO leaders issued a blueprint for the next decade, describing Russia as a direct threat to their countries’ security. NATO leaders were expected to take concrete steps against Russian aggression in Lithuania. In addition to the 31 NATO member states, the leaders of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and the European Union also attended the meeting. NATO

The question of the membership of Sweden and Ukraine also played a prominent role in the meeting. The way for Sweden’s membership has been cleared after Turkey withdrew its objections to Sweden’s membership. But no consensus could be reached among member states on Ukraine’s membership. Britain absolutely supported Ukraine’s membership. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged Kiev to be admitted to membership as a matter of urgency without having to meet NATO membership requirements.

If the conditions are met, Ukraine can be included in the group. NATO

In contrast, most NATO countries seemed to say that Ukraine could not join until the war was over. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO leaders agree that Ukraine can be admitted to the group if allies agree and conditions are met. Ukrainian President Zelensky was dissatisfied with NATO’s decision, calling it an “absurd” decision. In fact, NATO believes that Zelensky must first win the war against Russia, because only if Ukraine continues to exist can membership move forward. NATO

This was the first time since Lithuania’s entry into the alliance in 2004 that such a high-profile international meeting was held in Lithuania. Extensive security arrangements were made in Lithuania in view of the meeting. US-made Abrams tanks, German Leopard and Marders and Patriot missile defense systems and other security equipment were used. The entire capital was transformed into an impregnable fortress. Armored vehicles patrolled the streets. NATO jets kept an eye on Lithuania from the air. Lithuania would never have had such tight security arrangements in its history as before this NATO meeting.

Countries around the world, including Russia, China and North Korea, watched the meeting of NATO leaders, which took place a short distance from the border with Russia’s main ally Belarus. In such a situation, the main question was whether an intelligent initiative will be taken during this high-profile meeting to save Europe from the horrors of nuclear war, or, as every time, this meeting will also be limited to speeches and manifestos. Lithuania, where NATO meets, was once part of the Soviet Union. Now a member of NATO.

Estonia and Latvia have also been members of NATO and the European Union since 2004. Russia has been against them. Now the way Lithuania set the tone against Russia by hosting the meeting. Will Putin keep quiet about it? Despite being the smallest of the Baltic countries with a population of just 2.8 million, Lithuania is the largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine by per capita income. He has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO. How will Putin react to Lithuania’s courage? It will also be very interesting to watch.

The United States, Canada, and some Western European countries established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 in response to a perceived threat of Soviet expansion after World War II. At the time of its formation it had 12 members. Until the last summit, the number of member countries was 30. With the recent addition of Finland, the number of members has increased to 31. NATO

This was Finland’s first summit as a NATO member. Article 5 of the NATO Charter is the mainstay of this military alliance that guarantees collective defence. It commits NATO member states to protect each other and to create a sense of solidarity within the alliance. In other words, if a NATO member state is attacked by a non-member state, all members will regard it as an attack on themselves and react collectively. Article 5 does not apply to a third country such as Ukraine. NATO

However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, the importance of this military alliance built by the US and its European friends began to wane. Experts of strategic affairs even began to say that if NATO does not play a major role in Europe in the near future, it will cease to exist. But that changed after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has challenged America and Europe by attacking Ukraine, NATO has returned to its pre-1992 position.

At the latest meeting, US President Joe Biden announced a massive increase in US military presence in Europe, including a permanent US base in Poland, two Navy destroyer bases in Spain and two F-35 squadrons. Biden’s decision and now Sweden’s arrival will undoubtedly increase NATO’s power in Europe. But what happens to the peace of Europe in the expansion of power? NATO leaders should consider this Yaksh issue.

Dr. NK Somani, International Affairs expert (opinions are those of the author)

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