Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ukraine crisis forces NATO back to basics in Europe

Ukraine crisis forces NATO back to basics in Europe:

The Ukraine crisis is forcing NATO back to the basics of collective defence in Europe as Russia seeks to restore influence in its Soviet era backyard, analysts and officials said.

NATO leaders meeting Thursday and Friday in Wales must now ensure the alliance can react quickly and credibly after years spent well beyond its original remit -- the defence of western Europe against the Soviet Union, they said. "We now have NATO returning to it's basics, focusing primarily on collective defence and coming out of 20 years of operations with all the experience that that has given and facing new challenges that we did not expect," said Douglas Lute, the US Ambassador to the alliance in Brussels.

- Changed strategic environment -

The Ukraine crisis, NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen warns repeatedly, is the most serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security since the end of the Cold War.

Worse still, it comes as Russia has increased defence spending by 50 percent over the past five years while NATO countries have cut their's by some 20 percent, Ramussen said recently.

"We must reverse the trend," he said.

"NATO now faces a very changed strategic environment from just six months or a year ago," said one diplomat in Brussels, home to the alliance's HQ.