The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the most powerful and largest military alliance in the world. Although it was formed in 1949 with only 12 countries, it now has 30 member countries. NATO's main goals and objectives are to provide political and military assistance to its member countries. If a NATO member is attacked, the main task of NATO is to help the rest of the countries together.
From the very beginning of the formation of NATO, the organization has never had good relations with the then Soviet Union or present-day Russia. One of the purposes of NATO's founding in 1949 was to counter current Russia or the former Soviet Union. But what is the reason for NATO's hostile relationship with Russia? Why does Russia not trust NATO? Let's take a look at the time when NATO was established.
What is NATO and why was it formed?
When NATO was formed in 1949 with a total of 12 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and France, the organization had an agenda to extend a helping hand in case of any armed attack on any member country. The organization set out to prevent the expansion of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II. But in response, the Soviet Union led the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance of Eastern European communist countries formed in 1955. After the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, several Warsaw Pact countries joined NATO.
What is Russia's current conflict with Ukraine and NATO?
Ukraine is a country of the former Soviet republic. Although it is not a NATO member country, it is an ally. Allied countries mean that Ukraine will have the opportunity to join NATO in the future. So Ukraine occasionally participates in joint exercises with NATO forces. But Russia does not want that to happen. Russia launches Russian aggression in Ukraine and one of the main reasons for this aggression is around NATO.
Ukraine was originally interested in becoming a member of NATO. And Russia is much more concerned about this. Russia doesn't want Ukraine to join NATO. If Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, then the troops of this alliance will be able to take a position in Ukraine. Which would be a big threat to Russia. The Kremlin wants assurances from Western leaders that Ukraine will not join NATO. But the Western world has not yet decided on this issue.
Ukraine and Russia are neighboring countries. Ukraine is home to a large number of Russian-speaking and ethnic groups. So the people of Ukraine have social and cultural similarities with Russia. For geopolitical reasons, Russia considers Ukraine as its backyard. Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, Western nations, including NATO, have been providing economic and military assistance to Ukraine.
What else is Russia worried about?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that the Western world is using the NATO alliance against Russia. He wants NATO to suspend all activities in Eastern Europe. And in 1990, the United States promised that it would not spread to Eastern Europe. But Putin has long complained that the 1990 promise was being broken.
However, Nato has denied the allegations. It says Russia has borders with a handful of NATO countries. They referred to them as a defensive alliance.
The role of NATO in the past on the question of Russia and Ukraine
In 2014, a pro-Russian Ukrainian president collapsed following a trade deal with the European Union. In retaliation, Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine. Moscow is backing rebels in eastern Ukraine. Although NATO has not been directly involved in the Ukraine war, it has deployed troops in several Eastern European countries.
NATO has four multinational battalions deployed in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland. Moreover, NATO has a multinational brigade in Romania NATO has stepped up surveillance in the Baltic states and in Eastern Europe to prevent Russian aircraft from entering member states' airspace.
NATO's role in Ukraine
In 2008, then-NATO leaders promised that at some point Ukraine would be given a chance to join NATO. So until the moment before the start of the Russian aggression, NATO's cooperation with Ukraine had increased. But in the current situation, it is unlikely that Ukraine will join NATO at this time. President Volodymyr Zelensky has acknowledged this. In addition, to join NATO, there are certainly political, economic, and military criteria that Ukraine has failed to meet.
Some member states were also reluctant to allow Ukraine to join NATO in the face of strong Russian objections. Because if something like this happens, Russia could get involved in a conflict with NATO. So the NATO authorities have played a very cautious role on the Ukraine issue. But Zelensky has at various times expressed his desire to join NATO. A special rule of NATO is that if a new country is to become a member, all 30 members must reach a consensus.
However, since the beginning of Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the countries of the western world have been providing various assistance to Ukraine. NATO has increased military assistance. But the alliance is not directly involved in the war against Russia. US President Joe Biden has said that if the US and NATO join the Russia-Ukraine war, World War III will break out.
Russia believes that if neighboring Ukraine joins NATO, the alliance will deploy large numbers of troops and military equipment in Ukraine. As a result, Russia's security will be disrupted. Therefore, Russia is taking all such measures to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. Russia's relations with NATO have worsened over the Ukraine issue. Russia is stepping up its attacks on Ukraine. So one of the main conditions for Russia's peace talks is for Western leaders to reassure Ukraine that it will never join NATO.