This week, NATO marked the 72nd anniversary of its founding in the face of new challenges and unrelenting threats.
In recent weeks, Western allies have expressed concerns about the build-up of Russian troops and military equipment near the border with Ukraine.
Moscow has said that the deployment aims to ensure Russia’s own security and does not threaten anyone. However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky called on NATO to speed up his country’s entry into the alliance, saying it would serve as a “real signal” for Russia.
It has been 72 years since the Western allies signed the Washington Treaty establishing NATO, based on the principle of collective self-defense against a perceived threat from the Soviet Union.
Russia is still the biggest challenge for the alliance, said Jonathan Eyal, deputy director of the Royal Institute of Defense Studies.
“Ukrainian President Zelensky’s call is a reminder that in reality, NATO not only remains the focus of attention of former members of the Soviet Union, who are desperately trying to break out of Russia’s sphere of influence but, in the end, is the only security structure in Europe that matters, “Eyal told Voice of America.
“So this underscores the central role of NATO as a security structure in Europe,” he said.
This role continues to attract new members to NATO. North Macedonia joined the alliance in March 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an official candidate, while Ukraine and Georgia are seeking entry.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed America’s commitment to the organization. His predecessor, Donald Trump, once called NATO “obsolete,” which caused tremors in the transatlantic alliance. Later, Trump changed his position.
Biden is also pushing for NATO to address other strategic threats, said Simone Soare, a senior analyst at the EU’s Institute for Security Studies.
“This is about cooperation on climate change as far as security and defense are concerned,” she said in a recent interview. – And even in a broader sense – about technology. About a new approach to Russia and China. A new approach to how democracy is promoted and defended against disinformation and subversive campaigns.”
Biden’s confirmation of US support has given the alliance an extra boost in the face of the challenges it faces.
Analysts say that NATO remains the foundation of European security despite the friction as the alliance enters its 73rd year.