Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ukraine's Loss of Crimea Has NATO Examining Its Core Mission

At the Los Angeles Times, "NATO member nations are split over how aggressively to respond to Russia's takeover of the Crimean peninsula":

BRUSSELS — Last fall, nearly 6,000 NATO troops, mostly in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, trained to repel an invasion by a fictional country that bore an uncanny resemblance to Russia.

Five months later that scenario no longer seems so remote.

The reality of tens of thousands of Russian troops assembled along Ukraine's border has forced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to confront long-deferred issues about its capability — and collective will — to respond to aggressive moves by Moscow.
The recent ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich and Russia's belligerent response has the 65-year-old alliance thinking again about its core mission of common defense at a time when its resources, including those of the U.S., are stretched thin.

That reflection has exposed a deep division among NATO's 28 member nations.

In a visit to Belgium on Wednesday that included a stop at NATO headquarters, President Obama vowed the alliance would "uphold" its commitment to defend its members. In a clear warning to Moscow, he called for stationing more forces in NATO countries "that may feel vulnerable."

Some experts say that if Moscow began to seriously threaten NATO members, the U.S. would need to at least partially rebuild its military presence in Europe, which once included more than 250,000 troops, hundreds of tanks, fighters jets and other equipment for rapid response against the Soviet army. The number of U.S. troops in Europe now stands at about 70,000 and dropping.

For now, that remains a distant possibility. Obama has all but ruled out direct U.S. military involvement in Ukraine, noting that the country is not a NATO member and therefore outside the alliance's collective security umbrella...

And at the New York Times, "Obama Renewing U.S. Commitment to NATO Alliance."

Also, from Stephen Walt (yes, that Stephen Walt, FWIW), "Would You Die for That Country?"