How Ukraine Changed NATO (and hurt Putin)


as you've probably already noticed Putin's invasion of Ukraine has brought Nato out of the shadows the transatlantic alliance that Emanuel macron described as brain dead in 2019 looks more relevant than at any time in the last 30 years and a number of European countries have begun to consider membership so, in this blog we're going to be taking a look at how Nato might change in reaction to the war in Ukraine not just in its membership but also in its deployment the most obvious change to Nato will be its membership as we've detailed in other blogs both Sweden and Finland are considering joining recent polling has found that an all-time high of 57 percent of swedes and 68 of Finns support Nato recession and Nordic media has reported that both countries plan on applying to join simultaneously sometime in the next few weeks as you'd expect this hasn't gone down too well with Putin and Russia has tried to deter both countries from joining in February Russia's foreign ministry spokesperson warned of a quote military and political consequence if the countries joined the bloc and in April Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry peskov warned that if Sweden or Finland joined Nato Russia would have to quote rebalance the situation possibly by deploying nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad oblast last Friday a Russian military plane briefly entered Sweden's airspace in what was perceived as an unsubtle warning to the country against Nato membership nonetheless this hasn't deterred either Finland or Sweden not least because Russia probably already has nukes in Kaliningrad Sweden and Finland's secession prospects have already improved over the last few days on Tuesday Olaf Schultz stressed that Germany would protect both countries even if they weren't in Nato and on Wednesday UK defense secretary ben Wallis said it was quote inconceivable that the UK wouldn't defend Finland or Sweden in the event of invasion the same day the Swedish foreign Minister announced that Sweden had received security guarantees from the us if it applied for Nato membership these security guarantees even if they're not as iron card as NATO's article 5 will guarantee Sweden and Finland some degree of security while their Nato applications are processed now we should say that Finnish and Swedish accession to Nato isn't yet a foregone conclusion Sweden's ruling social democratic party which has traditionally opposed Nato membership is divided on the issue and the Croatian president recently announced that he would veto their recession if he could nonetheless at this point their eventual recession looks more likely than not and this would be the first big post-Ukraine change to Nato they're not the only countries who could join Nato though clearly rattled by Russia's newfound belligerents on Wednesday Georgia's President urged a quote quicker and sure path to Nato recession although Nato looks unlikely to accept a member with an ongoing border conflict with Russia in the near future anyway, that's the first big post-Ukraine change to Nato its membership but the war in Ukraine has also caused another big perhaps less obvious change in Nato in its deployment over the last two months Nato has rapidly deployed troops on its eastern border at the end of last year Nato had less than 5000 troops on its eastern border spread evenly across Estonia Latvia Lithuania and Poland today that number is near a forty thousand deployments in all of these countries have been significantly augmented especially in Poland where Nato now has over ten thousand troops and troops have been deployed in Slovakia Hungary Romania and Bulgaria including national armies this means that Nato has some 330000 troops on its eastern border with some 130 aircraft on high alert and around 150 warships patrolling the seas this already massive number will rise to above 350000 in the next few weeks as over 20000 Nato and joint expeditionary force troops including 8000 British soldiers perform expanded joint exercises the largest of their kind since the cold war for context pre-invasion the Russian army was estimated to have around 600000 personnel in total Russia's western military district which covers territories bordering Finland the Baltics Belarus and Ukraine has about 300000 troops stationed there obviously, this massive troop buildup is in response to Putin's war in Ukraine pre-invasion at Nato had five response plans drawn up in anticipation of an invasion when Nato leaders met for a virtual summit on February 25th a day after the invasion began they agreed on triggering all five of NATO's response plans leading to this massive troop build-up the rationale here at least according to NATO's joint command is that more troops on the eastern border should better deter Putin from expanding his invasion into one of Ukraine's Nato neighbors like Poland or the Baltics now this is probably true for the moment the Russian army currently looks very unlikely to start a war with a beefed-up Nato especially given that it's already struggling in Ukraine nonetheless even if it's a justified response to Putin's aggression in Ukraine NATO's troop buildup on its eastern front will raise tensions in Moscow at a time when neither side enjoys the safeguards of the cold war both the inf treaty which banned cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5500 kilometers and the open skies agreement which allowed Russia and Nato members to conduct reconnaissance flight over the other's military sites have been torn up and Russia's invasion of Ukraine has implicitly rubbished the 1997 Nato-Russia founding act which required both sides to avoid new deployments on their borders Russia's chief of the general staff has also apparently rebuffed attempts by the chair of NATO's military committee to set up communication channels to be clear we're not suggesting that Nato should wind down its operations on It's eastern flank we're just pointing out that Nato today has more manpower than ever on its eastern flank without any of the cold war safeguards and this should worry well anyone who doesn't want a war between Russia and Nato so that's how Ukraine has changed Nato it's encouraged other countries like Sweden and Finland to join the alliance and triggered the most impressive troop build-up on Nato's eastern flank in 30 years.

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