In light of the current conflict between the Russian and Ukranian governments, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) finds itself returning to its origins in facing the growing territorial conflict between the conflicting governments.
Founded in 1949, its purpose was to preserve freedom and combat the growing threat of the Soviet Union. Today, it addresses its rising priority of protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty from a territory-hungry Russia.
Recently, Russia has been consistently violating international law with its actions in Ukraine. The conflict began in March when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, the beginning of months of violence between the two states and increasing international unrest.
Now, Russia is accused of sending troops into Ukraine to aid pro-Russian separatists.
The United States and the U.K. have spoken out against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a joint statement last Thursday criticizing Russia’s dismissal of international law, and its actions of undermining a sovereign nation state.
According to NBC, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated: “These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is underway in Donetsk and Luhansk.”
Western officials have demanded Russia withdraw their troops and pull away from the border. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen put the recent events in historical perspective: “This is the first time since the end of World War II that one European country has tried to grab another’s territory by force.”
Jan Techau, director of Carnegie Europe, commented on the NATO Summit to NPR. “It’s pretty amazing how that summit became something very, very different in a very short period of time and then producing results,” said Techau. “You rarely get as much substance out of a NATO Summit, but here, the pressure was clearly so high that they felt they needed to do something and they did.”
At the Summit, President Obama revealed that actions would be taken going forward, including a “ready rapid response force that can be deployed on a very short notice.” He also emphasized NATO’s increasing presence in Central and Eastern Europe in order to deal with the conflict.
Ukraine and NATO are now working closer than ever before, despite the fact Ukraine is not a member of the alliance. CNN reports NATO just provided Ukraine with $20 million to build up their military and their cyber-defense, logistics and command and control capabilities.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said they had received “strong, enormous support” and “Cooperation is at the highest level during the 20-year history of the partnership between Ukraine and NATO.”
Along with the increasing aid and support to Ukraine, President Obama said that the United States and Europe have prepared more sanctions towards Russia.
A short-lived ceasefire, orchestrated Sept. 5, was recently threatened by attacks near Ukraine’s southeastern city of Mariupol, a city important to Russian rebels due to the fact that it is on the route to Crimea.
Editor’s Note: Information from CNN, NBC and NPR was used in this report.