The Kiss of Life from Russia to NATO
The most important agenda item of the "NATO Leaders' Summit" held in Brussels on March 24 was Russia's attempt to invade Ukraine. NATO members drew a picture of unity against Russia. Established in 1949 against the Soviet Union, NATO was the military, political and ideological apparatus of the "Cold War" era. According to Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, NATO's first secretary general, NATO was established to "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, the Germans down". Defeated in the Second World War, Germany was admitted to NATO in 1955. However, Germany was seen as one of NATO's weak links. The financial contribution of Germany, which has the largest economy in Europe, to NATO was proportionally below that of many members. This situation was the cause of a serious crisis between the USA and Germany during the Presidency of Donald Trump.
On February 24, 2022, Russia's attempt to invade Ukraine caused Germany to change its stance. Germany has committed to both strengthening its own army and increasing its financial contribution to NATO. This new situation is described as "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, the Germans standing". Germany's change of attitude came as a surprise to Russia.
During the "Cold War" period, the USA reacted violently to the efforts of NATO member countries to get closer with the Soviet Union. The oil embargo initiated by the oil-rich Arab countries in 1973, and the fact that some European countries, especially Germany, turned to Soviet oil with the "barter" method disturbed the USA. The United States pressured the West German government to break barter agreements with the Soviets.
In every crisis of NATO, Moscow came to the rescue. According to Shay Khatiri, co-author of the US opinion website "The Bulvark", Putin was not the first Russian leader to revive the dying Trans-Atlantic alliance. And the Kremlin had a strange habit of reviving the alliance when it was at its weakest. This was the subject of Khatiri's March 24 article. One of NATO's most serious first crises was caused by the "Suez Crisis" in 1956.
Joint military intervention of NATO members Britain and France in Egypt with Israel was inconsistent with the Middle East policies of the USA. Ultimately, under the pressure of the USA, Britain, France and Israel were forced to withdraw from Egypt. This crisis had brought NATO almost to the point of disintegration. Even the meeting of the NATO Summit, which was expected to take place in London the same year, was in danger. However, Moscow's military intervention in Hungary, a satellite country of the Soviet Union, strengthened NATO again. So NATO was saved.
In the 1960s, France under Charles De Gaulle also pursued a policy of détente with the Soviet Union. France withdrew from the military wing of NATO in 1966 due to the US involvement in European policy. According to the 13th article of the NATO Treaty, after 20 years have passed since the establishment of NATO, any country that wanted could leave the membership. The twentieth year was in April 1969. However, there were rumors that NATO might disband in 1969 due to disagreements between the US and France and some other members. In August 1968, Moscow's military intervention in Czechoslovakia, a satellite country of the Soviet Union, once again saved NATO.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the "Cold War" period changed the threat perceptions of European countries regarding Moscow. The continuation of NATO's existence despite the dissolution of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact has always been discussed. On top of that, with the push of the USA, NATO continued to expand towards the borders of Russia. As Russia collapsed economically, it was ineffective against this expansion. This situation started to change after Vladimir Putin came to power by surprise. While the feeling of trust eroded among NATO members, Russia increased its military power with oil and gas revenues.
The US's "open door" policy for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO was the first serious break. The US-NATO managed to trap Russia with its "open door" policy. Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 revived NATO a bit. On February 24, Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine had further cemented Europe into NATO.