Europe, Power & Security, Russia Ramp up on Russia

October 14, 2020
By Ambassador Alexander Vershbow | Atlantic Council

Six years after suspending “business as usual” with Moscow, the Alliance’s Russia policy is largely static and reactive.

NATO has done well in reestablishing deterrence against Russian aggression in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. However, in the years since, the Alliance has been less effective at countering Moscow’s ongoing political warfare against NATO members’ societies and democratic values. 

There is sustained Russian interference in the internal affairs of the NATO member states, little meaningful dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council, an unraveling of arms control constraints, provocative Russian military activities in NATO air and sea space, aggressive disinformation and propaganda campaigns against the West, and unchecked adventurism in the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan.

Russian-led forces in occupied Donbas continue their attacks on Ukrainian forces and civilians despite numerous ceasefires, a daily reminder of Moscow’s rejection of the Helsinki principles of respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all European states. Belarus also faces sustained Russian pressure and possible military intervention to suppress the mass protests triggered by the falsified elections in August 2020. And Russia has once again thumbed its nose at the international community by using an illegal chemical weapon to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny. NATO’s failure to halt Russia’s aggressive behavior puts the future of the liberal international order at risk.

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