Ukraine Crisis Update—NATO’s Response


The United States Flag is hoisted next to the flag of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in front of a USAF aircraft carrying U.S. troops in Lithuania, April 26, 2014.

Unrest in eastern Ukraine is pushing the former Soviet republic closer toward direct conflict with Russia. Russian president Vladimir Putin’s government has made veiled threats to take more Ukrainian territory, and Russia has continued to mass military forces along its western border with Ukraine. In the weeks since Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s territory of Crimea, pro-Russian militias have taken over government buildings in several eastern Ukraine cities—all of which have significant populations of ethnic Russians. Ukraine’s government has undertaken an “antiterrorism” campaign and clashed with the militants.

As Western leaders warn Russia to back off, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has stepped up military readiness. NATO has increased its naval presence and air policing in the Baltic area and has sent personnel to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (all of which are former Soviet republics) as well as to Poland. NATO forces also are conducting military exercises.

Russia’s aggressive occupation and annexation of Crimea sparked further destabilization in Ukraine. As a result, other countries in eastern Europe, many of which share a border with Russian territory, are understandably alarmed. These include not just the Baltic states but also nations that were once part of the Soviet bloc such as Romania. Those that are members of NATO are expecting the alliance to come to their defense, should that be necessary.

NATO was established in 1949, at the onset of the Cold War, for the mutual security of North America and Europe. The United States has historically been the leading member state. From the mid-1950s until the fall of the Soviet Union NATO was opposed by the Warsaw Pact, a Soviet-dominated alliance. Many of the nations that have become NATO member states—it has enlarged to include 28 nations—were former Warsaw Pact members. As the world’s preeminent alliance, NATO has the stated purpose is “to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.”

Image credit: © PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images

Related Links

  • NATO Boosts Presence in Eastern Europe as Turmoil Continues in Ukraine
    This article reports on the actions taken by NATO in response to the Ukraine crisis.
    (Source: VOA News, April 30, 2014)
  • Russsia’s Accusations—Setting the Record Straight
    This NATO fact sheet explains the alliance’s views on the central issues in the Ukraine crisis, addressing Russia’s claims.
    (Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, April 16, 2014)
  • NATO’s Relations with Ukraine
    From NATO’s official website, this article describes the status of relations between the alliance and its troubled (non-member) partner.
    (Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organization; accessed April 30, 2014)
  • Ukraine Crisis
    This website covers all aspects of the crisis in Ukraine; includes updates, timeline, photos, maps, historical background.
    (Source: BBC News; accessed April 30, 2014)
  • Doorstep Statement
    View the announcement by NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, following a mid-April meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council; transcript of statement can be found here.
    (Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, April 16, 2014)
  • Why NATO Is Such a Thorn in Russia’s Side
    This article examines the Russian perspective on the expansion of NATO in recent decades.
    (Source: CNN, April 16, 2014)

One Comment

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