From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NATO
Mains level : Russian contention with NATO
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO that if Sweden and Finland joined the US-led military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defences in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.
Why in news?
- Finland, which shares a 1,300-km border with Russia, and Sweden are considering joining the NATO alliance.
Why do they want to join NATO?
- The possible accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO to get collective Western security against Russia — would be one of the biggest strategic consequences of the Ukraine war.
- Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and fought two wars against it during Second World War during which it lost some territory to Moscow.
- Sweden has not fought a war for 200 years and post-war foreign policy has focused on supporting democracy internationally, multilateral dialogue and nuclear disarmament.
What is NATO?
- NATO is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
- It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
- Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.
Why was it founded?
Ans. Communist sweep in Europe post-WWII and rise of Soviet dominance
- After World War II in 1945, Western Europe was economically exhausted and militarily weak, and newly powerful communist parties had arisen in France and Italy.
- By contrast, the Soviet Union had emerged from the war with its armies dominating all the states of central and Eastern Europe.
- By 1948 communists under Moscow’s sponsorship had consolidated their control of the governments of those countries and suppressed all non-communist political activity.
- What became known as the Iron Curtain, a term popularized by Winston Churchill, had descended over central and Eastern Europe.
Ideology of NATO
- NATO ensures that the security of its European member countries is inseparably linked to that of its North American member countries.
- It commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
- It also provides a unique forum for dialogue and cooperation across the Atlantic.
What is Article 5 and why is it needed?
- Article 5 was a key part of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, or Washington Treaty, and was meant to offer a collective defence against a potential invasion of Western Europe.
- It states: (NATO members) will assist the party or parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
- However, since then, it has only been invoked once, soon after the 9/11 attack in the United States.
Why has Article 5 not been invoked this time?
- The reason is simple: Ukraine is a partner of the Western defence alliance but not a NATO member.
- As a result, Article 5, or the Collective Defence Pledge, does not apply.
- While NATO has said it will not be sending troops to Ukraine, it did invoke Article 4, which calls for a consultation of the alliance’s principal decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.
- In its history, it has only been activated half a dozen times.
- But the fact that this time around eight-member nations chose to invoke it was enough to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation at a global level.
What may prompt NATO to invoke Article 5?
- NATO will invoke Article 5 only if Russia launches a full-blown attack on one of its allies.
- Some top US officials have warned of the impact of some of Russia’s cyberattacks being felt in NATO countries.
- When you launch cyberattacks, they don’t recognize geographic boundaries.
- Some of that cyberattack could actually start shutting down systems in eastern Poland.
But what is NATO’s problem with Russia?
- Russia has long been opposed to Ukraine’s growing closeness with European institutions, particularly NATO.
- The former Soviet republic shares borders with Russia on one side, and the European Union on the other.
- After Moscow launched its attack, the US and its allies were quick to respond, imposing sanctions on Russia’s central bank and sovereign wealth funds.