How the war in Ukraine exposed NATO's weaknesses

10:04 26.06.2023 •

NATO, which three decades ago, after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, remained "lonely" in the international arena, entered a new phase of military challenges with the outbreak of war in Ukraine. And these challenges have revealed the big problems that NATO suffers from on many levels – in politics, in military capabilities, in propaganda and in the ability to "containment", the Lebanese newspaper ‘Al Mayadeen’ notes.

The future of the NATO alliance, which was once said to be heading for the "end of history" and the assertion of unipolarity in favor of the West, may not match what Western propaganda says about the strength and capabilities of this NATO.

Now NATO, through its military bases and forces associated with its 30 countries, is dispersed over most of the globe. At the organizational and military levels, this largest military alliance in the world has three joint command headquarters – in Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. The military command itself is based in Belgium.

Questions about NATO's effectiveness did not arise only in February 2022 – many strategists and experts in the field of international relations have long questioned the effectiveness of NATO policy before.

The British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ pointed out that behind the NATO shield "weakness and split" and that Ukraine "will pay the price for this." The newspaper wrote that problems within the alliance would not start in Ukraine, but they would appear more and more as the war continued, especially if the scales tilted towards Moscow.

Previous wars waged by NATO and the alliances under its banner in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Serbia and Latin America have not led to the achievement of their long-term goals. Despite the atrocities committed by the Western forces and the heavy losses they have suffered in these countries, there have been scandals with the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan and Libya.

The war in Ukraine has perpetuated the excessive dependence of the 29 NATO countries on the United States of America at the military and financial levels. As the NATO-led international coalition against Russia has proven, the country that can actually determine the paths of politics, economics, peace and war is only Washington. And many countries, like Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway and others, changed their initial political orientations when they sought to maintain some balance in relations with Russia. They de facto dramatically changed their policy.

There is no doubt that the Nord Stream explosion was a turning point. It showed Germany and other countries that sought to maintain relative independence from US policy in NATO that all options for pressure on the allies are open to Washington, even if it is military or intelligence intervention.

This is not an increase in the power of Washington and not the appearance of strengthening its hegemony. This is a manifestation of fundamental differences in directions and policies on major issues between the main countries of the alliance. This means that the development of the alliance is not based on "harmony" and "integration" between countries.

Disagreements among the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization regarding the admission of Ukraine into its membership have become one of the most severe crises that NATO has experienced in its modern history. It turned out that among the 30 member countries, some of them do not share a common vision on the main issues. On some of the most important issues, they have their own views, different from the rest. And other countries put forward "special conditions" and unilaterally pursue their own "special policy". For example.

Despite the fact that Romania has military bases belonging to NATO close to Russian territory, Bucharest has a very cautious policy towards Russia and seeks not to interfere in any escalation with Moscow, contrary to the general line of the alliance.

Bulgaria is also in a special position as it hosts an important NATO base and its government supports the orientation of the alliance. However, there is a big division at the level of political currents – the Bulgarian people are divided between supporters of the European Union and supporters of Russia, who are hostile to EU policies.

Hungary is the European NATO country that most angers the West, which has openly shown several times that its policy towards Russia does not correspond to the general orientation of the anti-Russian front. The Hungarian government has refused to join tough sanctions against Moscow, has maintained relations with Russia, and demands a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crisis and to prevent escalation.

Turkey, with its regional and international political weight, being a founding member of NATO and one of its strongest countries in terms of human and military power, as well as having a large NATO Incirlik base, is one of NATO's main problems – Erdogan does not want to spoil relations with Putin.

Despite the agreement of the Greek government with the requirements of the European Union and with the direction of NATO policy against Russia, popular sentiment in Greece is distinguished by support for Russia and refusal to escalate.

The war in Ukraine showed that the arsenal of NATO and all allied Western countries is not ready for real wars. Most European countries are not able to maintain production capacity in a war, especially after cutting off sources of energy raw materials from Russia and Ukraine.

The war also revealed real problems with the quality of Western weapons being produced. Western manufacturing has typically invested in aviation capabilities and "advanced technology," but the ground war in Ukraine has undone the effects of Western air superiority that NATO forces had enjoyed in previous wars.

Western air defense systems also revealed significant gaps in the tactics of multi-level confrontation. Even a Patriot missile cannot fight targets flying tens of meters above the ground at great speed. At the level of hypersonic missiles, Russia's superiority on the battlefield was clearly evident.

The Ukrainian war also showed at the military level a lack of strong capabilities and readiness for mutual coordination of various types of weapons in various NATO member countries, as well as a significant lack of effective joint exercises, joint use of weapons and the exchange of intelligence information and experience.


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