NATO is a military alliance that was established in 1949 to guard Western Europe against a Soviet invasion.
Along with the U.S. and Canada, most European countries are members – the exceptions being Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Finland and Sweden. Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the latter two countries applied for membership, and are currently awaiting Turkey’s permission to join.
Most commentators, including myself, would argue that NATO played a vital role in deterring Soviet aggression during the Cold War. (For those who are interested, I wrote a short paper on this.) Today, however, the organisation’s purpose is less clear, and some people say it should have been disbanded after the fall of communism.
Indeed, NATO has been the subject of intense debate since the outbreak of the war in the Donbas in 2014, and even more so since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some commentators, such as the political scientist John Mearsheimer, argue that NATO’s policy vis-a-vis Ukraine was a key factor behind Russia’s invasion. Others, such as Mearsheimer’s long-time debate opponent Michael McFaul, dispute this – claiming Putin would have invaded regardless of what NATO did.
Among the evidence that NATO policy was a key factor behind Russia’s invasion is the fact that Putin repeatedly mentioned the alliance in his pre-invasion speeches. (Of course, this evidence is by no means dispositive, and we shouldn’t take what Putin says at face value – as with any world leader.)
In response, NATO released a bizarre video that purports to debunk “false myths” and to “set the record straight”. The video deals with two “myths” in particular.