As tensions with Russia spiral, where is NATO?

A pro-Russian separatist soldier stands guard at a checkpoint in Enakieve, about 15 miles from the eastern Ukrainian city of Debaltseve, on Jan. 29. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

As Iran rattles its sabers and Russia masses weapons in and around Ukraine, many are asking, “Where is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?” What are its member states doing to bolster European stability and deter these new strategic threats?”

The alliance that once stood toe-to-toe with the communist bloc is silent and seems ill-prepared for today’s challenges. Not that long ago, NATO was the bastion of air-defense capability. With the end of the Cold War, however, members reduced their air-defense assets.

Nations have downsized their forces and are discussing further reductions. NATO’s robust training exercises have been reduced or eliminated, and the pursuit of weapons and equipment that could be integrated and can work together seems more a topic of discussion than an urgent need.

Yet post-Cold War Russia is emerging as a serious threat, and other nefarious world actors are demonstrating new capabilities. Moscow is developing advanced ballistic and cruise missiles and boasts a long-range strike capability. The Kremlin’s new doctrine characterizes NATO as a threat. Consider: NATO aircraft intercepted Russian military aircraft more than 400 times in 2014, as Russians probed into or near NATO airspace.

In addition, Iran has unveiled its unmanned aerial vehicle, declared itself the “world’s fourth-greatest missile power” and opened 2015 with a satellite launch of a rocket that could send a ballistic missile into Europe. Hamas, a Middle East terrorist organization like Islamic State, tested the Qasam rocket, fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel in the 2014 conflict and flew its own unmanned aerial vehicles…

Robert Newton, a retired Air Force colonel, is a test pilot and former Pentagon acquisition officer.

  • Don’t worry NATO countries, your pride parades will protect you.

    • You’re a wise man, Comrade Putin.

      • It’s nice to find someone who appreciates me for more than just my looks.

        • eMan14

          We would like to send to a nice shiny pony as a peace offering.

  • Pontifex Maximus

    NATO delenda est!

    • Destroyer-Drone

      Russia, Iran, ISIS, North Korea, Cuba, China, Mexico Delenda Est.

  • DMB

    NATO is too busy embracing diversity to care.

    • Destroyer-Drone

      That’s what happens when you appoint a socialist, pro-palestinian dhimmi ex-PM with next to no diplomacy skills like Stoltenberg to lead NATO.

    • Millie_Woods

      Thanks for the link.

      You just don’t know how deep the rot goes until you really look into it.

  • Destroyer-Drone

    No offence to the author, but this title makes the article look out of place since it delves too much into technicalities.

    Where is NATO?
    Nowhere. NATO is retreating everywhere. Its’ leadership (e.g. Jens Stoltenberg) mirrors the Obama administration. Withdrawing everywhere.
    Europe’s fate is thus left to the EU, France, and Germany’s own devices: whose piss-poor diplomacy will only serve to illustrate the superiority of America’s old interventionist foreign policy over the ungrateful, spoiled and arrogant recipients of US protection.

    What needs to be done?
    If ever NATO is too survive in the following decades. It must imperatively morph into the true military branch of the West. Civilizational awareness must be at the core of this process. Massive cleaning up is required in order to attain geopolitical consistency: expelling Turkey, including Australia & New Zealand, assisting Israel, changing its name…in other words, NATO must reform itself and quickly adapt to the looming reality of a multipolar/post-American world.

  • canminuteman

    NATO exists in name over. When I first became a soldier Canada had 4 CMBG and 1 Air Div consisting of 2 (I think) F18 squadrons. We had fly over troop in Canada to reinforce it in times of crisis. All those troops came home, and the troops became unemployed. There were nearly 90k troops in the Canadian Armed forces then, now I believe there are less than sixty. The reduction in combat power of most of our NATO allies has been even worse. Europe has no money and no will to defend itself any more. They would rather spend their limited national budgets on welfare checks for invading muslim hordes.

  • As misguided as Russian support for Putin is, not even that will save Putin if the Ukrainian war drags on, the sanctions deplete the economy and Islamists find a weakness.

  • cmh

    Maybe NATO is finally starting to realize that the people in the contested region would much rather be with Russia.

  • tom_billesley

    Britain has pulled off a master stroke and boosted its military spending.
    How? – by including pensions in the accounting.
    Take that, you Russkies.