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By Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General
Text: rasmussen nato/20140319_nato_transcript.pdf
Review by Bernardino Ochoa, International Relations graduate student, Webster University, Fort Bragg

According to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a speech at the Brookings Institution, Russia’s annexation of the Crimea serves as a wake up call for European NATO members to step up politically and militarily.  NATO views Russia’s use of force in Crimea as an illegal and illegitimate breach of its international commitments.  Most significantly, NATO believes the events in the Ukraine followed a broader Russian strategy to promote instability along its border territories, including Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagomo-Karabakh, as a means of attaining regional control.  NATO’s response to Russia includes an effort to match Putin’s assertiveness.  For example, the European Council has committed to increasing European investment in military capabilities for the first time since its founding.

While no one wants a complete break in cooperation with Russia, Putin may have stirred a sleeping giant in the European collective consciousness. NATO partners are now reconsidering whether Russia should be considered an adversary.  In a throwback to Cold War rhetoric, Rasmussen commented, “…faced with a more assertive Russian attitude, it is of utmost importance that we in the Euro-Atlantic organizations provide [Eastern European] partners with a realistic and credible Euro-Atlantic alternative to Russian pressure.”  Rasmussen left no policies off the table for NATO to consider within the new context of Russian aggression, including revising criteria for new members to join NATO, development of missile defense systems, improving cyber defense capabilities, drone acquisition, and increased surveillance and reconnaissance.

Paradigm shifts in global relations are inevitable and characteristic of international relations.  The recent split of Ukraine marks the beginning of a new European approach to Russian relations.  As Europe revitalizes its approach to security it will also need to strike a balance with its liberal principles of peace through integration and diplomacy.

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