Members of the world’s most powerful military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), met on Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium Discuss Russia’s military build-up along Ukraine’s border.
Washington and Kiev say Moscow has deployed an estimated 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine in recent months, eight years after it seized the neighboring Crimean peninsula.
The NATO-Russia Council will be followed on Thursday in Vienna by further talks between Russia and members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
So, what are these organizations and what do they do?
Members of NATO, OSCE and EU
NATO consists of 30 nations.
Their primary role is to protect its member states through political and military means. The alliance allows European and North American members to discuss security issues.
All NATO members are also part of the OSCE.
The OSCE’s 57 states are spread across North America, Europe, the Caucasus and Asia. It is the largest regional security body and serves as a forum to discuss security issues such as arms control and “terrorism”.
Six members of the European Union (EU), of which there are 27 countries, are not NATO members – Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden.
NATO history and enlargement
NATO was established in 1949 by 12 member countries – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. Its purpose was to combat Soviet enlargement and encourage political integration in Europe.
In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought NATO guarantees that it will halt its expansion and end military cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia.
In 2004, seven Eastern European states joined the alliance.
NATO allows member states to allow new countries by consensus. Of those who joined in 2004, all but Slovenia were part of the Warsaw Pact – a defense treaty created in 1955 between the Soviet Union and seven satellite states.
In 2020, Northern Macedonia became the youngest member of the treaty.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine have declared their wish to join NATO.
NATO military operations
Article 5 of the NATO Treaty sets out the principle of collective defense as the core of NATO’s initial treaty. This clause means that an attack on one ally is considered an attack on all members.
NATO’s military operations began with a naval blockade and air campaign during the Bosnian war that lasted from 1992 to 1995.
In 1999, NATO launched an air campaign to force Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo and end the conflict there.
Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, NATO invoked Article 5 and joined the US and British forces to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. Over the 20-year war, 50 NATO and partner countries contributed forces to the missions in Afghanistan. At its peak in 2011, there were nearly 140,000 U.S. and allied forces in the country.
NATO military spending
In 2020, the US spent $ 778 billion on its military – the largest military spending in the world – according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which accounts for 3.7 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).
Among NATO members, the UK is the second highest military spender with $ 59.2 billion spent on its military in 2020, accounting for 2.2 percent of its GDP.
Iceland does not have an army of its own and so its military expenditure is zero.
For 2022, NATO’s military budget is set at $ 1.77 billion (1.56 billion euros). Member countries contribute to the budget based on a cost-sharing formula derived from the gross national income of each country.
The US and Germany contribute the highest percentage, amounting to more than 30% of the military budget.