What is stopping Russia from attacking NATO?

The question of whether arms supplies to Ukraine will not involve the West in the war is not from yesterday. Above all, the American president has repeatedly called for a careful approach. As Joe Biden said in May, until the US or its allies are attacked, there will be no direct involvement in the war – “neither by sending US troops into Ukraine, nor by attacking Russian units”. He also specified that “we do not encourage Ukraine to launch strikes beyond its borders”. These two statements have largely defined both American and Western aid to Kyiv to this day, notes Nicolas Busse at FAC.

For his part, American Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken, quoted by ZDF, said that “arms supplies to Kyiv are a sovereign decision of each individual country.” Ukraine has long insisted on receiving heavy tanks from its allies. The issue is to be discussed at the meeting of Western allies of Ukraine at the US military base “Ramstein” in Germany, which will be held on January 20. Defense ministers and senior military officials from a number of countries are expected to discuss further support for Ukraine in the war against Russia.

The West is doing its best not to be directly involved

Apart from restrictions on the types of weapons available to Kyiv, another issue is key to aid for Ukraine. Since Western soldiers are not sent to Ukraine, Ukrainian personnel must be trained abroad to use Western weapons, complicating matters. In addition, to prevent Russia from being attacked with Western weapons, the US has limited the range of the HIMARS multiple-launch missile system to 80 kilometers, although some missiles can reach up to 300 kilometers, FAC said.

But even these decisions are not enough to ensure that Russia will not take retaliatory measures against the West. Since the beginning of the war, EU and NATO countries have realized that attacks on Western arms supplies by Moscow are possible. If they happen on NATO territory, then the Alliance will have to make an important decision and consider entering the war directly.

All this affects the type and manner in which weapons and equipment are provided to Ukraine. On the one hand, it is about the combat effectiveness of the aid provided – it has increased slowly and gradually, first portable rockets, then howitzers, until it reached the current debate about battle tanks. The second means is Western coordination – arms deliveries are not always carried out simultaneously, but as a rule they are coordinated. This gives Putin fewer opportunities to target individual countries and thus split the Western alliance.

Could Russia attack NATO?

In March, for example, Poland wanted to deliver warplanes to Ukraine via a US airbase in Germany. The US refused.

This dynamic exemplifies the great dilemma facing not only Poland. In principle, any European country that is part of NATO depends on Washington giving approval for its course, since Europe cannot defend itself against Russia. The obligation to provide support is not very specifically defined in the North Atlantic Treaty. It is therefore important that countries have a coordinated approach, which is determined at a meeting like the one in Ramstein.

Putin must be aware that NATO will confront him with all its potential if he decides to attack weapons depots in Poland or Romania, for example. However, no one in the West could be sure that the Russian president sees red lines in this regard and whether he will not cross them, FAC stated.

From a military point of view, it seems less possible today than at the beginning of the war that Putin could afford an attack on the West. Since the Russian army is already under great pressure in Ukraine, a new front in the west will completely overwhelm its capabilities. But politically, things could look different: the more Western supplies accelerate Russia’s defeat in Ukraine, the greater the danger for Putin to lose his power, concludes Nicolas Busse at the FAC, writes “Mother well“.


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