Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is a “wake-up call” for the Atlantic military alliance and other international institutions that have buttressed European security and stability for decades, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday.
“We live in a different world than we did less than a month ago,” Rasmussen said in a previously scheduled Brookings Institution speech that was adjusted to reflect a sudden crisis that he called Europe’s “gravest threat . . . since the end of the Cold War.”
How NATO and its 28 individual members respond to the new world Rasmussen outlined is likely to determine whether the challenges that have plagued the alliance almost since its inception are eased or aggravated.
Many of those challenges — American dominance, unequal burden-sharing, defense budget woes — were somewhat subdued during NATO’s first four decades, when the United States was ready and eager to lead on the front lines of the Cold War.
But since the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union, with interruptions for joint action in places such as Bosnia, Afghanistan and Libya, those problems have dominated virtually every high-level NATO meeting...
...Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, who served as supreme allied commander of NATO from 2009 until 2013, said the crisis is likely to have a “salutary effect” on financial commitments NATO members have made but failed to keep. Overall, he said, Russia’s actions in Ukraine stand to boost the alliance’s relevance and jolt its politics, especially among its newer members in the east “who quite vividly remember being under the Russians. They’re nervous,” he said.
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