On Thursday the 18th of April, the Committee for Intellectual Activities organized a masterclass about NATO’s 70 years existence. They invited Dr. Artemy M. Kalinovsky who is a teacher of East European Studies. Dr. Kalinovsky started with a brief overview of the coming-to-existence of NATO after the Second World War. The expansion of Soviet influence was the prime reason. The security of the West European states came under the American umbrella. However, he emphasized that it was an “Empire by invitation,” which means that the European states were free to join whenever they wanted. Another salient detail is that NATO can see the exit of a member without any significant or structural effect: France moved out of NATO in 1966. Nonetheless, France kept on cooperating tightly with NATO.
Another topic that Dr. Kalinovsky touched upon was the disintegration of the Soviet Union. One of the pillars on which Gorbachov allowed for such disintegration was the promise that NATO would not expand eastward in case of a breakup in the Warsaw Pact. How wrong he thought you might think: NATO includes even the Baltic states now. Yes and no. Yes, because the inclusion of the Baltic states is indeed a stab a soul called “honor” for the Russians. No, because American troops designated for NATO (the most important troops of the alliance) did not expand eastward. Basically, there was a discussed on the spirit and letter of the “gentlemen’s agreement.”
Thus, the Soviet Union disintegrated together with the Warsaw Pact. Now, what happened exactly? NATO expanded, with or without troop deployments, and Ukraine became the new point of reference when talking about NATO-Russia relations. The annexation of Crimea alongside the Russian intervention or support for the separatist movements in the east of Ukraine created new tensions along the Russo-NATO axis. Russia feels threatened. And while the NATO did not have any real existence after the Warsaw Pact stopped existing, the actions of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin added to a list of weak reasons a strong reason for NATO to continue to exist. Whether on purpose or not, NATO has reinforced its right of existence in the current post post-Cold War era.
Emre Demirkiran, member of the Committee for Intellectual Activities