In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO has deployed forces to eastern European countries.
Here is what you need to know about NATO and the role it plays in the crisis.
What is NATO?
Nato – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – is a military alliance formed in 1949 by 12 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, and France.
Members agree to come to one another’s aid in the event of an armed attack against any one member state. Its point was initially to counter the danger of post-war Russian extension in Europe.
In 1955 Soviet Russia answered to Nato by making its own tactical union of eastern European socialist nations, called the Warsaw Pact.
Following the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991, various previous Warsaw Pact nations exchanged sides and became Nato individuals. The union currently has 30 members.
What is NATO’s Job?
“NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means,” according to the NATO website.
Politically, the goal of NATO is to prevent conflict between countries through cooperation on defense and security-related issues.
NATO has crisis-management operations set in place, in which military forces and other sources can be sent to member countries in need.
Is NATO an Army?
NATO has access to about 40,000 troops in its NATO Response Force but so far has not activated that group. About 5,000 of those troops have been placed on heightened alert.
Some of the organization’s members have been supplying arms and equipment to Ukraine, but NATO isn’t taking similar action itself.
The Alliance counts on the military might of its 30 Allied and partner nations to support missions and operations around the world.
NATO doesn’t have its own armed forces, but it has a permanent, integrated military command structure, comprised of both military and civilian personnel, from all member states.