Fletcher in the News

Ukraine's Loss of Crimea Has NATO Examining Its Core Mission: Dean Stavridis Weighs In

Dean Stavridis The Fletcher School

Last fall, nearly 6,000 NATO troops, mostly in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, trained to repel an invasion by a fictional country that bore an uncanny resemblance to Russia.

Five months later that scenario no longer seems so remote.

The reality of tens of thousands of Russian troops assembled along Ukraine's border has forced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to confront long-deferred issues about its capability — and collective will — to respond to aggressive moves by Moscow.

The recent ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich and Russia's belligerent response has the 65-year-old alliance thinking again about its core mission of common defense at a time when its resources, including those of the U.S., are stretched thin.

That reflection has exposed a deep division among NATO's 28 member nations…

…"There is a split," said retired U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, NATO's top commander from 2009 to 2013 and now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

NATO members in Eastern Europe "have a very sharp, painful understanding of Russia's potential aggression," while other allies "want to take a very measured approach."

A failure by NATO to respond now could invite further Russian testing of the alliance's resolve, Stavridis warned.

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