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NATO turns 75, stronger than ever thanks to the war in Ukraine

NATO turns 75, stronger than ever thanks to the war in Ukraine

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary on Thursday, stronger than ever, but still under threat from Russia and the specter of Donald Trump.

The military alliance that emerged in the Cold War to confront the Soviet Union was revitalized with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and has more troops than ever before on its eastern flank.

With the entry of Sweden and Finland, the alliance that in 2019 was in “brain death”, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, it now has a record number of 32 member countries.

In this way, the military alliance refocused its objectives by refocusing on Moscow, its original adversary, although today’s Russia is far from the now defunct Soviet Union and its allies.

This strengthening trend began in 2014, when Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, but became full after February 2022.

Between those two dates, NATO reached its greatest crisis with the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, a step that made various European capitals question – more or less openly – the alliance’s excessive dependence on the United States.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine changed everything for NATO. Alliance countries have sent tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukrainian forces.

With Russian forces gaining ground in Ukraine and Western arms deliveries to kyiv slowing, observers fear that NATO countries could be next in Russia’s sights if the Kremlin achieves a victory in Ukraine.

“If aid decreases and Ukraine is under pressure to negotiate and accept a bad peace, that would increase the danger of an aggressive Russia. That is why it is essential to support Ukraine now. “It is an investment for the NATO of tomorrow,” said James Black of the US company RAND Corporation.

The Trump factor

But Russia is not the only threat looming over NATO. The other major factor of uncertainty is the eventual return of Donald Trump to the White House.

His time as president of the United States caused a storm in NATO, and in his campaign for a new mandate he has already generated a serious crisis with just one sentence.

At the beginning of this year, at a campaign event, Trump assured that if he were re-elected he would encourage Russia to “do whatever it wants” with those NATO countries that are not up to date with their financial obligations.

According to Camille Grand, a former senior NATO official, “Trump’s real problem is his unpredictability.”

US withdrawal is not even necessary. A tweet or a phrase like ‘no American soldier will die for an ally like Lithuania would be enough.a’” for another crisis, said Grand, who is now a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

For this reason, NATO has begun a strong effort to increase the number of countries that meet the objective of investing in Defense the equivalent of 2% of GDP.

In 2014, only three countries in the alliance reached that level, and NATO hopes that by the end of this year the number will rise to 20.

Diplomats at NATO headquarters in Brussels are optimistic about a possible second term for Trump.

In such a scenario, they mention that to convince the United States that NATO remains relevant, it must intensify the attention it pays to China, a key concern for Washington.

But even despite the increase in defense spending in European countries, many believe that NATO without the power of the United States simply could not function.

“If the United States backs down, then we won’t be able to manage it (…) Europe is picking up the pace, but it will be some time before it can catch up” to the American contribution, said a European diplomat, on condition of anonymity.

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Source: Gestion

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