The Ukrainian Minister of Defence has accused Russia of waging a “great war” that risks tens of thousands of lives. The Kremlin has denied involvement, but evidence is growing that Russian troops have crossed the border into Ukraine

EU leaders have threatened Moscow with further sanctions, but Europe is deeply divided over the appropriate response. Dalia Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian president, believes that Russia is “at war with Europe” and calls for EU arms shipments to Ukraine. However, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has threatened to veto new sanctions against Russia as “meaningless and counterproductive”.

The escalating crisis has seen relations between Russia and the West at their worst since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Not long ago, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was wondering about its relevance in a post-Cold War order. Since the crisis in Ukraine escalated, however, a new NATO rapid response force of several thousand troops based in Eastern Europe has been announced and new NATO bases will be constructed.

In order not to breach the 1997 Nato-Russia Founding Act, which expressly forbids a permanent NATO presence in Eastern and Central Europe, the new force will be made up of troops provided on a rotating basis.

Has the crisis in Ukraine given NATO a renewed importance? Earlier this summer, we spoke to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former Secretary-General of NATO (2004 – 2009), at the Security & Defence Agenda annual conference in Brussels. We put a video question to him from one of our users, and he answered by saying he hoped the crisis in Ukraine would provide new impetus to the North Atlantic alliance.

We also had the chance to speak to the current Deputy Secretary-General of NATO, Alexander Vershbow, and put the same question to him.

Will Eastern Europe be safer with a stronger NATO presence there? And has the crisis in Ukraine given renewed importance to NATO? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Texas Military Forces

105 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Breogán Costa

    NO, we should keep in our countries, fixing our economies and problems, not starting wars in our borders, in our continent, to allow other economies from other continent to grow up.

    • avatar

      It seems NATO has created the crisis in Ukraine in order to respond to it.

  2. avatar
    Tomas Šamke

    Yes, Russia aggression against Ukraine proves that, Baltic States and Poland need NATO solders and bases. And everybody who says no, it’s easy to say that, you don’t have neighbor country that always threats and blackmail, have a lot of solders near our country borders, and can attack us whatever they want.

  3. avatar
    James McManama

    Unfortunately, military force is the only thing that Putin seems to understand. The West should keep providing plenty of “off ramps” for Russia, and should push for a dialogue and keep the path open to a return to normalized relations. However, it also needs to make it clear that the West is not a paper tiger.

  4. avatar
    Radu Albu-Comanescu

    YES. (And by the way, the RELEVANT answers to this question come from Central & Eastern Europe, not from the Mediterranean areas, nor the Western. WE know Russia, WE were neighbours for 200 years, WE had to deal with their “initiatives” and armies. WE know BETTER. Deal with it.)

  5. avatar
    George Danieldsg

    Eastern Europe is not threatenig miltarily by none.NATO must stop asking funds for military expenses and create artificially conflicts.Funding is needed for economy and social services for a better life not for expensive arms for war and blood.

  6. avatar
    Jaime Martins

    The world is already on the razor’s edge in climate terms, what we really need is a large-scale war to wipe out the rest. ?Let us sell weaponry and oil?.

  7. avatar
    Spyros Kouvoussis

    i like how people actually forget history. The past 200years there has never been an attack from Russia, either as USSR or Russia to Europe, only from Europe to Russia. Napoleon, Civil War 1918, Hitler. When did Russia attacked military Europe? Only in 1941 in WW2, which was hardly an attack.

    On the topic, EU and NATO are supporting a Nazi coup in Kiev made and funded by the oligarchs of Ukraine. What do they expect??? Citizens accept that easily??? The only ones attacking and provocating war are the West imperialists, as always.

    • avatar

      Khem. Baltic occupation, invasion to Finland need I go on?

      The Neo-Nazi candidate got 2% in a presidential vote which makes your “Nazi coup” argument completely and utterly meaningless.

  8. avatar
    ObservateurBxl Brabançon

    The colateral question is “What’s the f… is doing EU in this messy Ukrainian geopolitical clash (besides looking as a puppet of US driven NATO against this falcon of Putin) ? “

  9. avatar
    Leonam Gonçalves

    No ! I guess no european western country should be part of this horrible organization either after we got to know Operation Gladio. But hey, people are so easily brainwashed…

  10. avatar
    Dirk Hildebrand

    difficult queszion. On one side we have to protect our eastern NATO-members and on the other side right now Russia will define every action of NATO as aggression. Why do not have troops in germany or western Poland with the possibility to react but with enoigh distance to the mad Russian bear.

    09/02/2017 Anna Fotyga, a Polish MEP from the ruling Law and Justice party, and Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, has responded to this comment.

  11. avatar
    Jude De Froissard

    No….and if we want russia to be friendly to europe….we must not go and tickle them just at their border.

  12. avatar
    Jovan Petronijević

    Ukraine needs help from NATO. OK if we peresume that 35% of Ukranian people are militants, now tell me who is there to help Libya, Afganistan???

  13. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Yes and no! If you bulk up military presence it will of course increase security. But it will also intimidate our neighbour more, aka Russia who they will in return increase their own military presence as a reaction. Where will this end? Enough with the “West vs Russia” game, it is bad for the continent! Russia either we like it or not IS our neighbour and close trade partner, what is the point of being always at each other’s throats? Europe, America and Russia could form a formidable alliance and block if they put their act together! Europe should stop being America’s underdog and form it’s own policies and alliances, while keeping its ties with America, but on equal terms. But it also should seek closer ties with the BRICS, which yes, they include Russia! Will the Russians play ball and compromise? Perhaps not, but turning the guns against them is not really helping!!

  14. avatar
    Vinko Rajic

    Who cares , NATO should work on to organize a free elections in Ukraine . We don’t need this conflict .

  15. avatar
    Jason Pi

    It is quite reassuring that the ‘yes’ and ‘definitely yes’ responses (with exclamation marks) have no need or desire to give explanations, as opposed to the ‘no’s which endeavour to present rational analysis.
    Beata ignoranza.

  16. avatar
    Joel Dominic Rodrigues

    Russia is a bully & we need to stand up to them. This sort of behavior from them is over 30 years behind the times & it needs to be made very clear that it is unacceptable. Trade? The rest of the word isn’t good enough if Russia wants to be an ass? Putin’s authoritarian, corrupt Russia feels threatened by a open, free, liberal, democratic Europe, working together within the EU & EEA, rather than being controlled by something like the Kremlin. NATO is important, however we need to be certain it will always defend territories under it’s protection. There is a history of that not happening in the past.

  17. avatar
    Marko Sucic

    I just hope Ukraine won’t look like Syria, Afghanistan, Libya or Iraq after US/NATO finishes with it…..

  18. avatar
    Reno Zed

    We should stand up to Russia, today is Ukraine, tomorrow Poland. We made a huge mistake making business with a country like that, that’s a EU failure that must be addressed in the future.

  19. avatar
    Egon Witte

    NATO, out of eastern europe…it brings only war and instability..Let the people decide, not just some oligarchs…

  20. avatar
    Talis Briedis

    YES. Putin and most of Russia is stuck in the 1940’s. The mentality has not progressed actually since long before that even (from the time of The Huns) Aggression and violence is a fact of life there. It is the ONLY thing they understand. The rest of the world has evolved. Even China has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. Give Russia Iran, let’s see how they deal with them. Well, the outcome will not be much different from Syria.

  21. avatar
    Pedro Redondeiro

    Of course it will, with NATO presence eastern europe, will be in heaven, because Putin will not dare to make an “incursion” in NATO held territory! And it is going to be even safer when the anti-missile balistic system is put in place, aiming Russia! ;)

  22. avatar
    Jason Pi

    Pedro, enjoy the show when China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan dump their combined Megatons on to your Corporate bankster’s little toy, NATO.

  23. avatar
    Girts Treikmanis

    We in Baltics (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland) want to feel safe. We say big YES to NATO. Putin is methaly ill person – he needs to be noutrilized.

  24. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    DE:…….“In order not to breach the 1997 Nato-Russia Founding Act,…????

    The same Act established the “NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council” (PJC)- but failed by all accounts, and its breakdown was highlighted by Russia’s temporary suspension of its PJC participation to protest NATO’s 1999 military campaign against Yugoslavia!

    It has not only been breached and suspended but was replaced by the “The NATO-Russia Council (NRC)” in 2002.

    It seems even the NRC is falling or fell apart over US/Nato plans to field the Mark-41 (MK-41) missile launchers in Romania and Poland- as part of the “European Phased Adaptive Approach”. It is the “Obama administration”- not Europe’s policy for missile defense in Europe. That is why the Pole (with a Yankee name) ‘Donald’ has been nominated- a staunch US warrior in a civilian suit!

    In opposition to Nato- Russia deployed R-500 Iskander-K short-range cruise missiles in 2013 south of Petersburg in response to the US plan! (Note: why is it always the US/Nato- not Europe?)


    Why would Uncle Sam decide once more what Europe defense needs are? Maybe the Europeans are too stupid, naïve, paralyzed or too peaceful? Of course they are too weak! All former COMECON countries are for ever grateful to Uncle from America! Which threat? Future Arab, Iranian, ISIS, Indian, Chinese- ICBM’s. Of course, it is never mistrust against Russia, they are safely locked into treaties!

    Who needs all this useless treaties and joint councils if one has enough rocket launchers & ICBM’s? Don’t worry; be happy, Uncle Sam prints enough Dollars to afford all that!

  25. avatar
    Jakub Wojsyk

    Spyros Kouvoussis, you are wrong. Russia invaded Europe several times before, e.g. in 1920 and 1939 invaded Poland twice. Yes, we do need NATO in Poland to feel safe. That’s why we joined NATO – because our big neighbour is unpredictable.

    • avatar

      Poland also invaded Russia at times.

      Tired of my country being used as a cash cow by Polish politicians and as a dumping ground for its cheap labor displacing our people driving up our unemployment.

      Western Ukraine and the Baltic States were filled to the rafters with antisemites who gleefully helped Germany in 1941-1945.

  26. avatar
    Joaquim Belbut

    Russia is Europe , USA is not…Gaz from USA does the same that gaz from Russia only the money goes diferent pockets.

  27. avatar
    Akos Tarkanyi

    No. Russia’s role in the Ukrainian crisis is an issue for Russia and is not sign of Russian intention to conquer any European country. Occupation of Eastern Ukraine / Novorossiya – if it happened – would be a just cause because of Ukrainian fascist occupation and mass killings against Russians there. And because of the ethnic principle and because Ukraine has lost its constitutional legal framework with the putsch and it legally does not exist any more as a sovereign state so its parts have right to become independent.

  28. avatar
    Akos Tarkanyi

    What Europe needs more is the work of the Moroccan and French secret services against islamism because this far only those proved to be – more or less – efficient in this crucial field.

  29. avatar
    Daniel Dimitrov

    Definitely! Whoever does not police his borders, gets them policed by someone else. There is inherent military risk coming from Russia, Iran and the Middle East, and this requires strong military action.

  30. avatar
    Paul Niland

    Spyros Kouvoussis, 1) Russia is invading Ukraine right now. 2) The revolution in Kyiv was not a “nazi coup”, it was simply normal people from all walks of life rejecting corruption and choosing a fairer system instead. 3) It was not “funded by the oligarchs” either. I get the impression you either watch too much RT thinking it’s an actual news channel (it’s not, it’s a propaganda tool) or you are simply another troll. Either way, your position is completely wrong.

    • avatar

      I wouldn’t call the Azov Batallion, Right Sector and Svoboda, all organizations with some significant neo-nazist elements to be ‘people from all walks of life’.

      Who provoked the violence? Who paid for what?

      Our true battle is with the undemocratic EU and the treasonous quisling politicians that defend it.

  31. avatar
    Gabor Molnar

    Europe, and the world in overall will be safer with Russia totally destroyed. Mordor has to fall, IMHO.

  32. avatar
    Gabor Molnar

    Carlos, Ukraine is not in NATO, but You really have to be blind if You can’t see, that Russia (Putin) will not stop in Ukraine. If the west civilization will let Putin to take over Ukraine the next country, where Russian soldiers may appear will be one of the EU countries.

  33. avatar
    Gabor Molnar

    And answering the question “Why should the NATO and the EU care?” – because there are 40+ millions of people live in Ukraine, and they are praying for help, and be sure, if Ukraine will get a single chance to build a normal western country, it will give to the EU a big economical benefit, if it will be ever possible to stop Russians stealing everything from Ukraine, I believe Ukraine will be able to give a lot to the western world.

    • avatar

      So that’s what it is about huh? To have western countries loot the place blind like they’ve done across virtually the entire world.

      Ukraine will never be EU (well they can have our place), after all who wants another bunch of hundreds of thousands people coming west to displace locals and decrease wages further? Well, apart from large corporations that is.

  34. avatar
    Irina Kuzmina

    ????? ?????? ?? ???????? ?? ???? ?????????!!! ??????? ?? ????? ?????? ? ??, ?? ???? ?????? ???????. ? ??????? ?????? ?????? ?? ????, ????? ????? ????????!!! ????? ????????, ???? ???????, ?????????? ????? ?????????? ?????? ?? ????? ?? ??????????. ??? ?????? ????????? ???????????????? ? ????? ?????????????, ? ? ???????????? ??????? ??????? ????????? ? ???? (((

  35. avatar
    Vladimir Kondratiev

    You can not be half vahitnym.Sanktsiyi born today would have to make sense only when he conquered the Crimea, and napivvahitnist will sooner or later will have event will still intervene by force of arms, but understanding this would cost too much in human and economic terms, this fee for short-sightedness. Remember these words then …

  36. avatar
    Vladimir Kondratiev

    ?? ????? ???? ?? ???????? ????????.??????? ??? ?????????? ???????? ???? ?? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ??? ??????? ????, ? ??????????????? ???????? ?? ???? ?? ????? ?????? ???????? ?????????? ????????? ???????? ??????,?????? ????????? ????? ?????????? ????? ?????? ? ? ?????????,? ???????????? ?????,???? ????? ?? ?????????????????. ???????? ????? ?? ?????…

  37. avatar
    Rezo Kaishauri

    While Europe debates, Ukraine is falling apart. Go on debating, there’s plenty of time before Russia comes to your doorstep.

  38. avatar
    Vaidotas Zemlys

    Oh yeah, we will be much safer. We tried neutrality once in 1939. No foreign alies, nothing. Russia invaded like there was no tommorrow, sent half of the population to Siberia and did not leave for half a century. So stfu all proputin jackals, we will try to save ourselves with the allies, the stronger the better. And remember that we have no intention to attack Russia, because who in the right frame of mind would want that godforsaken country?

  39. avatar
    Piotr Kociołek

    Mr Spyros Kouvoussis… :/ Russian’s strong military atacks to Europe in XX, XXIc : 1920-Poland, 1939-Finland, 1939-Poland (Stalin in alliance with Hitler),1956-Hungary, 1968-Czechoslovakia, occupation of Central and Eastern Europe-1945-1989, 2008-Georgia, 2014-Ukraine…

  40. avatar

    No ! No european western country should be part of this horrible organization…

  41. avatar
    Apolinaras Kirkutis

    My comment is dedicated to one foolish person – Spyros Kovousis. Look, u stupid liar, of wars list, caused by USSR and Russia in XX century:

    – 1921 invasion to Azerbaijan;
    – 1922 invasion to Gerogia;
    – 1939 invasion to Poland;
    – 1940 invasion to Finland (Winter war);
    – 1940 invasion to Baltic states and ocupation (Lithuania, Latva, Estonia);
    – 1968 invasion to Czechslovalkia;
    – 1979 invasion to Afghanistan;
    – 2008 invasion to Georgia;
    – 2014 invasion in Ukraine.

    There I have mentioned only invasions. In total numbers, during XX c., Russia was involved in 40 armed conflicts! So shut the fuck up those, who think Russia is innocent lamb compared to a big bad wolf NATO. Yes. NATO troops must be deployed in Baltic states and Poland. Russia does understand only the language of force. They respect nothing, but force. Naive western europeans can’t understand this. While putler’s regime is alive, Russia is directly threat not only for the Baltic states or Poland, but to all other neighboring countries, including Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan or even Kazakhstan. Take off your pink glasses and face the truth.

    • avatar

      Pop quiz: which country did all the following agression:

      1947-48 Italy (meddling with elections)
      1947-1949 1967-1973 Greece (enabling dictatorship)
      1945-1953 Phillipines (enabling dictatorship)
      1949-1953 Albania (attempted coup d’etat failed)
      1953 Iran (overthrow of elected leader, tyrant shah installed, US corporations control Iran’s oil)
      1953-1990s Guatemala (elected government overthrown, dictators installed, death squads trained)
      1950s-1973 Vietnam (genocidal bombing campaign, over a million dead)
      1955-1979 Cambodia (undermining elected government, resulting in rise of Red Khmer)
      1960-1995 aided Belgium in assassination of elected prime minister, dictatorship and mass killings followed
      1961-1964 Brazil (elected leader overthrown, dictator with CIA trained death squads attached installed)
      1959-present Cuba (its favorite dictator deposed, couldn’t have that could they)
      1963-1966 Dominican Republic (elected leader overthrown, dictatorship installed)
      1965 Indonesia (support of Suharto coup, resulting in mass killings)
      1964-1973 Chile (the usual recipe, elected government out, dictator with death squads in)
      1975 East Timor (secretly gave Indonesia government consent for mass killings)
      1978-1989 Nicaragua (the usual recipe)
      1979-1984 Grenada (the usual recipe)
      1989 Panama (usual recipe)
      1990-present Iraq (2 wars, 3rd one pending, endless bombing, a million dead because of sanctions)
      1979-1992 2001-present Afghanistan (phony war on terror, dictatorship installed under guise of democracy)
      1980-1992 El Salvador (the usual recipe)
      1987-1994 Haiti (the usual recipe)

      And that’s leaving out plenty of other coups d’etat, oil-grabbing, dictatorship installing, death-squad training (by the CIA), supporting dictatorships in Africa that pretend to be democracies.

      The answer of course is the same answer as to the question: who is the #1 agressor since 1945? Its the USA! The USA since 1945 has done more of this than ALL OTHER COUNTRIES combined.

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      ……that’s quite a lot of homework for the weekend- & unfair!

  42. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    NATO should focus all its efforts and resources on fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They are the aggressive ones invading other countries and killing innocent people in cold blood. There is a direct threat for Europe – Spain and all Balkan countries are on the IS map as future targets for invasion. Why waste money on a non-existent threat from Russia when the Islamic extremists are knocking on Europe’s door? Russia was simply responding to calls for protection from a large part of the Ukranian population who felt threatened because their right to have a say on the future of Ukraine was not respected by their new government which had a very aggressive language and attitude towards them. Once the democratic rights of those citizens are respected by the Kiev authorities, Russia will not have any reason to object Ukraine. Is that so difficult to understand? Everyone forgets that it all starts from people. Yanukovich was forced out by the people but there are millions of other Ukranians whose opinion has not been taken into consideration in the same way by the new authorities. On the contrary, the government started a bloody crackdown on democracy in the East of the country. Why do EU and USA think that Eastern Ukranians will agree for their human and democratic rights to be suppressed? Does EU support suppression of people? Why on earth should NATO waste its time and money to amass weapons against Russia, instead of looking at the heart of the problem – part of the Ukranians want their country to turn to EU, whereas another large part want to take a different direction to achieve prosperity. Why discriminate one over the other? Why not look for a solution that will make everyone happy? Allow both sides to trade freely with whoever they want and to choose the politicians they like! What does it have to do with weapons? Do Russian minorities in the Baltic countries or Poland feel that their rights are not being observed by their governments? No. Then all the fear of invasion is baseless! EU and USA still do not not seem to realise that Russians are actually human beings, just like everyone else and therefore have the same rights. No, in a deja-vu with black people’s plight throughout history, NATO countries and Ukraine now think that Russians are sub-humans, with no right to life. This is where all things go wrong. The rule is simple – respect the people and you will not have a problem. Force your will on them and you are in a big mess. NATO has no business fighting with Russia but instead has to attract it as a partner against the Islamic State. Otherwise, we might find ourselves in a situation where all military money has finished and Europe is left defenseless against the Muslim psychos who are determined to conquer the world and subdue everyone to Sharia law!

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      @Maia- Well said!

      To explore the underlying “New US Military Humanism” further, one should follow great minds like “Noam Chomsky”, who debates & gives more insight.

      NATO’s actions are all suspect & not conducted for humanitarian reasons but to further the military hegemony of western democratic powers such as the United States- sucking willing serfs into their jet stream! Can Europe not see through all the smoke & mirrors?

  43. avatar

    No, NATO should be disbanded.

    Like Tusk, Rasmussen is a neo-con warmonger who acts more as a salesman for US war industry rather than whatever he’s supposed to be doing.

  44. avatar

    well, if eastern States want it why not.
    Let them decide about it.

  45. avatar
    Richard Osborne

    Let’s not forget that Viktor Yanukovitch was the duly elected President of a democratic political system who, after deciding that the E.U wasn’t going to do enough for Ukraine, chose to build stronger ties with Russia. We ( being western Europe) supported the revolutionaries against the leader of a duly recognised government. Then, we left the revolutionaries fight for themselves. That kind of tactic is beyond disgusting and Rassmussen should offer firstly, compensation to Ukraine. A formal and public apology to Russia, resign and offer himself to the world court.

  46. avatar
    Michael Lamprecht


  47. avatar
    Adrians Sterns


  48. avatar
    Andreea Simona Cotofana

    NATO = peace without NATO means Danger

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