NATO turns 72 amid new challenges and unrelenting threats

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President Biden reaffirms US support for NATO, adding new strength to the alliance

LONDON – NATO this week celebrated its 72nd anniversary amid new challenges and unrelenting threats.

In recent weeks, Western allies have raised concerns about a buildup of Russian troops and military equipment near the Ukrainian border.

Moscow said the deployment is aimed at ensuring Russia’s own security and does not threaten anyone. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on NATO to expedite his country’s entry into the alliance, saying that this would serve as a “real signal” to Russia.

It has been 72 years since the Western Allies signed the Washington Treaty establishing NATO, based on the principle of collective self-defense against a perceived threat from the Soviet Union.

Russia remains the alliance’s biggest challenge, said Jonathan Eyal, deputy director of the Royal Institute for Defense Research.

“Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy’s call is a reminder that in reality, NATO not only remains the focus of the former Soviet Union’s countries desperate to break out of Russia’s sphere of influence but is ultimately the only security structure in Europe. which matters, ”Eyal told Voice of America.

“Thus, it underlines the central role of NATO as a security structure in Europe,” he said.

This role continues to attract new members to NATO. North Macedonia joined the alliance in March 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the official candidate, while Ukraine and Georgia are seeking membership.

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Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed America’s commitment to the organization. His predecessor, Donald Trump, once called NATO “obsolete”, which caused shivers in the transatlantic alliance. Trump later changed his position.

Biden is also pushing for NATO to address other strategic threats, said Simone Soare, a senior analyst at the EU’s Institute for Security Studies.

“This is about cooperation on climate change as far as security and defense are concerned,” she said in a recent interview. – And even in a broader sense – about technologies. About a new approach to Russia and China. A new approach to how democracy is promoted and protected from misinformation and disruptive campaigns. ”

Biden’s reaffirmation of US support has given the alliance an additional boost in the face of the challenges it faces.

Despite friction, analysts say NATO remains the foundation of European security as the alliance enters its 73rd year.