This essay will discuss the interests and possible action that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (“NATO”) may implement with regards to Crimea’s recent annexation by Russia. NATO is a partnership that guarantees shared security and democratic values, as well as collective ‘defense against the threat of aggression’ (Kurt Volker, 2006; Madeleine Albright, 1998). Many of its member states are surrounding the Ukrainian region – which, combined with other factors – creates a very strong regional interest.
This essay will first discuss NATO’s organizational structure, and what it means for the Ukrainian conflict. Second, it will focus on NATO’s interests in the region. Third, NATOs ...view middle of the document...
Article 5 of The Washington Treaty means that an attack against one member state is an attack against all; however, NATO has only evoked the treaty following the 9/11 attacks under Article 5 (NATO, 2011). In the Ukraine conflict, Russia has not directly threatened any NATO members. Further, while NATO have been involved in various conflicts externally (e.g. Kosovo), its primary objects have been peace-keeping and stability. It is significant that along with Georgia, the Ukraine has taken steps towards joining NATO (NATO 2014), both of which have been condemned by Russia (Fisher, 2014). NATO does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and promotes the Ukraine’s sovereignty (NATO, 2014). It aims to support restore peace in the region, and throughout the conflict has supported the Ukraine (NATO, 2014). However, the conflict continues to escalate following the recent Ukrainian elections as the newly elected Ukrainian government attempts to stifle pro-Russian separatists’ efforts (TIME, 2014; Reuters 2014). This has sparked further debate regarding NATO’s interests, and what level of intervention may be required regarding Russia’s violation of the Ukraine’s sovereignty (Chayes, 2014). Theoretically, NATO has been designed as a collective security agency, meaning that collective self defense through aggression is indeed possible (Murphy, 1994). However, NATO’s behavior patterns so far in the Ukraine conflict and indeed since its establishment – have been directed towards peace and stability. It is possible that the Ukraine situation will be no exception to this general pattern.
III. NATO’s interests
With the exception of the United States, member states are geographically located in the European region – meaning that maintaining regional stability is paramount. Several several NATO states border the Ukraine and there are over-hanging fears of Russia continuing to expand its borders illegally. Russia’s recent actions have sentiments of imperialism that fail to recognize the current status quo – which sparks alarm bells in a time where the Cold War is in the not-so-distant past. Washington’s delivery of troops to Baltic States and Poland indicate the United States’ interest in supporting its NATO allies, and its interest in also maintaining regional stability (Fox News, 2014).
The Ukraine occupies a ‘vital strategic position’ between Russia and Europe (McElroy & Oliphant, 2014). Russia’s recent actions have been somewhat surprising, perhaps indicating further unpredictability. NATOs dominant interest in protecting its member states means that expanding its influence over the Ukraine is important from a security point of view. While regional stability is paramount, most responses to the Crimean annexation indicate an inclination towards peaceful resolution. European states prefer responses to the Crimean annexation that promote political and economic stability as opposed to retaliation through military aggression (The Telegraph, 2014)....