Russia-Ukraine crisis and the role of NATO: 7 points

Updated on Feb 25, 2022 11:22 AM IST
Why is Russia invading Ukraine and what does NATO have to do with it? Here’s everything you need to know about the NATO’s role in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Smoke rises from an air defence base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine on Thursday. (AP file photo)
Smoke rises from an air defence base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine on Thursday. (AP file photo)
By | Written by Ishika Yadav | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters a second day today - at least 137 died in yesterday's fighting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has claimed. 

Why is Russia invading Ukraine? In brief, Russia believes Ukraine is moving closer and closer to the West via both the NATO, or North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, and the European Union. Ukraine is not a member of NATO but has cooperated with the alliance and frequently expressed its intention to sign up.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, is aware Ukraine joining NATO significantly increases the difficulty of bringing Donetsk and Luhansk within his control. He has also frequently accused Ukraine of being a 'puppet' in the hands of the West.

What is NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO, was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several western European nations to provide collective security against the then-Soviet Union. Its stated purpose is to guarantee member-nations' freedom through political and military means.

What is NATO’s political and military stand on war and peace?

NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.

NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes.

If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.

Who are the key members of NATO?

In 1949, there were 12 founding members - Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

At present, NATO has 30 members.

The other member countries are Greece, Turkey, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, Albania and Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.

What are Ukraine-NATO relations like?

Ukraine has repeatedly stated its intention to become a NATO member.

Ukraine applied for a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008.

However, its plans were scrapped in 2010 after pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych was elected as President. He stated that he preferred to keep the country non-aligned.

Yanukpvych fled the country in 2014 following civil unrest. His ouster triggered an invasion by Russian forces that led to Putin annexing the Crimean peninsula.

Following that invasion Ukraine again made joining the alliance a top priority. In 2017 the Ukraine adopted legislation reinstating membership in NATO as a strategic foreign and security policy objective. In 2019, a corresponding amendment to Ukraine’s constitution was effected.

In 2008, NATO promised Ukraine it would one day be given the opportunity to join the alliance. However, talks over its membership continue to drag on.

Why does Russia dislike NATO?

Joining NATO will boost Ukraine’s defensive strength manifold, and so Russia wants an assurance its neighbour will never be allowed to become a member of the alliance.

Further, Russia does not want NATO and western countries to expand its influence in the area. Putin claims NATO broke an agreement barring expansion, but NATO has snubbed these claims.

How is NATO involved in the Russia-Ukraine crisis?

Ukraine is not a member of NATO but the alliance is a key player in the ongoing conflict with Russia.

"Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the East," US President Joe Biden said during an address Thursday.

“We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and its government. Allies are united in their full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. We will continue to provide Ukraine with strong political support and Allies are providing equipment to help Ukraine defend itself, as well as sustained financial support,” NATO said.

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