Once prized as a pillar of post-war stability, the NATO alliance now confronts serious doubts about its internal cohesion, military strength, and political willpower facing an ascendant Russia. The war in Ukraine exposed festering internal divisions and years of neglected military capabilities. Fundamental questions now loom about NATO’s future viability as a bulwark against Russian expansionism. With NATO credibility in tatters after failing its core mission to counter Russian aggression, nothing less than a fundamental reboot may restore NATO’s purpose and capabilities in these turbulent times.
The perception of the war impacts how the actions of NATO and its member states are evaluated. As I have repeatedly argued, it is not a “Russia-Ukraine War” but a broader confrontation between Russia and the West.
Russia’s nature as an imperial power should be undisputable. It has expanded continuously for centuries at the cost of its neighbors. Even as the Soviet Union was being dissolved, Russia set about re-establishing its control over the post-Soviet space. Its recent calls for a sphere of influence and the right to veto the decisions of independent and sovereign countries are only a continuation of its past and present nature. It will continue to expand until stopped and contained.
Secondly, the Russian Federation Russia is seeking strategic parity with the US. Ukraine is only a small – but crucial – object in its strategy to achieve Great Power status. Ukraine unlocks the economic, technological, demographical, and geostrategic preconditions to establish the power needed to exercise its influence on the European continent.
Russian foreign policy focuses on its conflict with the West. Not Ukraine.