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Jul 15, 2023 / 14:31

NATO rediscovers its past

It was the biggest shakeup of NATO since the Cold War in the way how NATO would deal with Russia just now and in the future.

This year's summit held in Lithuania's Capital Vilnius has truly been a milestone in the history of NATO. Thanks to as well as because of the war in Ukraine between Russia and Ukraine which is still going on after more than 500 days. This war now dominates the whole agenda of NATO and directs all strategic planning and concrete actions of NATO. Among them are the accession of Sweden as its 32nd member, political and military support for Ukraine, an increase in the annual military budget, and strategies against Russia and China.

 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference to present the next North Atlantic Council (NAC) Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 3, 2023. 

NATO always feels comfortable when having chances and opportunities to present itself as the world's strongest and mightiest military and security block. It was once seen as "brain dead" by France's President Emmanuel Macron and described as "obsolete" by US President Donald Trump. It was politically and militarily as good as paralyzed when the war brooks out in Georgia in 2008 and when Russia seized Crimea in 2014. The Ukraine war revived NATO and gave NATO the unique opportunity to position itself at the center of world politics.

NATO always needs to have enemies to justify its existence and finds now one in Russia. At this Vilnius summit, NATO has put forwards its first large-scale defense plans since the end of the Cold War with the aim to contain Russia and to make Russia being unable to challenge the West in all aspects. It was the biggest shakeup of NATO since the Cold War in the way how NATO would deal with Russia just now and in the future.

In its true nature, these plans are as like as NATO reactivating its military plans against the Soviet Union in the past so that one can say NATO rediscovers its past. It is the same approach of delivering messages of strong deterrence and warnings, of building up troops and weapons along its border with Russia. It is the same ambition to encircle Russia by enlarging the alliance. It is the same show-up that NATO is always ready to militarily respond to any attacks by Russia against NATO territories. It is the same political confrontation and military front-building across Europe. It is the same box of tools and means NATO had used in the past.

The only but fundamental difference is NATO intends to use these old-style plans not only to help Ukraine win the war with Russia but also to sharpen political and security orders and structures in Europe for the future. Now, NATO can't dictate developments of the war in Ukraine, but NATO wants to take the leading positions in the future political and military orders and structures in Europe. The past has seemingly never passed for NATO.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Hanoi Times.