Effects Of Ukraine-Russia War On Security Policies Of NATO


The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which commenced in 2014 through the invasion of Crimea, has reached the stage that we currently witness today. Russian intervention in Ukraine is criticized from many perspectives and in terms of legal and political and also is met with reaction. Support by NATO is expected in this case as a result international security and peace are jeopardized and NATO is a deterrence and defence organization. Although nevertheless support from NATO is expected, there are different rules and conditions within the scope of security policies of NATO. In this study, what security policies of NATO are convenient, which measures can be taken and the effect of NATO on the current situation are evaluated.

Keywords: NATO, Invasion, Security, Ukraine, Peace.


2014’de Kırım’ın işgaliyle başlayan Rusya’nın Ukrayna’yı işgal süreci bugün itibariyle bilinen ve tecrübe ettiğimiz aşamaya kadar ulaşmıştır. Rusya’nın Ukrayna’ya karşı müdahalesi siyasi ve hukuki yönden ve birçok açıdan eleştiriye uğramıştır ve tepkiyle karşılaşmıştır. Uluslararası barış ve güvenliğin tehlikeye girmesi sonucu ve NATO’nun bir caydırma ve savunma organizasyonu olmasından dolayı NATO’dan destek beklenmiştir. Her ne kadar NATO’dan destek beklense de NATO’nun güvenlik politikaları kapsamında farklı kurallar ve şartlar yer almaktadır. Bu çalışmada NATO’nun güvenlik politikalarının neye elverdiği, ne gibi önlemler alınabileceği ve NATO’nun bu duruma etkisi ele alınacaktır.

Anahtar kelimeler: NATO, İşgal, Güvenlik, Ukrayna, Barış.


This study is to clarify whether NATO has the authority to underpin Ukraine under the security policies of NATO and what sort of effects NATO can occur. Since the Soviet Union lost its territories, Russia takes up to regain its territories from Ukraine and the struggle, which commenced with the invasion of Crimea in 2014, reached the Russian invasion of Ukraine as we see today and enormous losses occur along with international law being violated and international peace and security are jeopardized. This issue has importance in terms of understanding the position of NATO in connection with what extent the current case can reach by international law being violated and international peace and security being jeopardized. In this case, Ukraine, which has a weaker position than Russia, expects support from North Atlantic Treaty Organizations. In this study which is handled to express all these issues, what kind of interventions NATO put into practice or can put and what expectation of Ukraine ought to be at this point, have a significance. To make it clear to comprehend, firstly the issue is stated generally and after the claims of Russia, which they consider war as right, are handled, the effect of security policies of NATO on the Russian invasion of Ukraine is handled.

1. NATO’s Expansion from the Point of Ukraine And Russia

Due to the Russian threat, Ukraine needs to take steps to consolidate its current power and ensure the security of the country, including becoming a member of NATO. Ukraine’s membership in NATO is a trump card against Russia, and the military support of NATO will also provide Ukraine with a lot of support. The fact that Ukraine is a NATO member will not only contribute to Ukraine but also to NATO in terms of NATO’s enlargement (NATO, 2016). Although this situation is a major threat according to Russia, Ukraine does not approach this situation with a hostile perspective. Although joining NATO does not threaten Ukraine’s internal security, some elites state that this will put Ukraine in the buffer zone between the two blocks and disrupt relations with Russia (Atlantic Council, 2022). Russia certainly does not want Ukraine to join the Euro-Atlantic institutions because it does not find it in its interests for NATO to move further east. One of the reasons for this is that Putin explained in an interview that NATO is stronger than Russia and that in a possible war, the security of the country would be endangered, and for this reason, they would not allow NATO to get so close to it (Goda, 2015).

According to some liberals, Russia has always been a threat and will remain a threat. The Baltic countries are exposed to Russian military threats and economic damage. They think that having more countries become members of NATO will help them to resist Russia. They also put forth that NATO can prevent the aggression of Russia (Frix, 2016).

Realists, on the other hand, refute the thesis that NATO enlargement will deter Russia and claim that this will increase Russia’s aggression. NATO enlargement will jeopardize relations between the West and Russia (Tür, 2000). The strengthening of the Russian army, its revival, the rise of nationalism, etc. are not good reasons to justify NATO enlargement (McCalla, 1996). Determining adequate policies would be more appropriate instead of enlargement. However, as can be seen, today, NATO has expanded considerably and according to some people, this poses a danger. In June 1997, fifty US officials and experts stated in an open letter to President Clinton, ‘‘their belief that the current USled effort to expand NATO…is a policy error of historic importance’’ (MccGwire 2008: 1282; cf. Frix, 2016). They believed that, in Russia, it would “strengthen the non-democratic opposition [as] NATO expansion continued to be opposed across the whole political spectrum in Russia” (MccGwire 2008: 1282; cf. Frix, 2016). Others in American policy, on the other hand, stated that NATO’s enlargement policy endangered relations created risks, and pushed Russia further away from Europe instead of pulling it more into Europe (Smith, 2008). 

After all these discussions, today Russia has commenced the invasion process of Ukraine. The reason behind this, as Russia explained, is that, as stated above, NATO has surrounded Russia and this poses a threat to Russia. They also stated that they cannot shut their eyes to the attendance of Ukraine at NATO. That is to say, NATO is in a position that threatens Russia. However, there is a fact that Russia is also in a position to be a threat to NATO and security policies. So much so that in the case of Russia invading Ukraine, there is a possibility that it may attack other countries in Europe and pose a danger to them and although they do not state this clearly, Europe is on thorns about this situation and also this view has some supporters (Nation, 2000).

2. Claims of Russia for NATO

Firstly, Russia claims that NATO’s presence in the Baltic countries imperils their current situation. According to NATO’s statement, NATO’s alliances requested assistance from NATO as a result of Russia’s use of military force in the Baltic countries, and the reason why NATO is in those regions is the request of the Baltic countries (NATO, 2022). Secondly, NATO missile defence threatens Russian security. The weapons that NATO has placed in Romania have a purely defensive effect and cannot have an offensive effect. Russia’s claim that this NATO movement is threatening their country is completely unfounded (Belkin, Mix and Woehrel, 2014). Third, NATO is aggressive and a threat to Russia. For this claim, NATO indicates that “NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect our members. NATO’s official policy is that the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia” (NATO, 2022). Although NATO has worked together to counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism in the past, Russia’s actions, which started with the 2014 invasion of Crimea and extend to the present, are against international law and threaten international security and peace. At this point, it is Russia, not NATO, that is the aggressor and a threat. Fourth, NATO enlargement threatens Russia (Sauer, 2017). Also for this claim, NATO indicates -similar to the opinion aforementioned- that “NATO is a defensive alliance. Our purpose is to protect our member states. Every country that joins NATO undertakes to uphold its principles and policies. This includes the commitment that NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia, as reaffirmed at the Brussels Summit this year” (NATO, 2016). In addition, every state has free will to join NATO or not, and how they will use this will is not determined by any institution or state.

Effects of War on Security Policies of NATO

Ukraine is not a NATO member but is a partner country. Thus, Ukraine can cooperate with NATO, but cannot benefit from security instruments, that is, security guarantees are not provided to Ukraine (NATO, 2018). However, although they cannot intervene, according to NATO’s statement, a lot of assistance is provided. NATO stated that “NATO is helping to coordinate Ukraine’s requests for assistance and is supporting Allies in the delivery of humanitarian and non-lethal aid. Individual NATO member countries are sending weapons, ammunition, medical supplies and other vital military equipment to Ukraine. They are also providing millions of euros of financial assistance to Ukraine. Many Allies are also offering humanitarian aid to civilians and opening their borders to Ukrainian refugees” (NATO, 2016). In the past, after the 2014 invasion of Crimea, NATO helped Ukraine on behalf of developing its armed army and defence institutions. In addition, Ukrainian forces have achieved great progress by participating in NATO’s practices and operations. According to the statement carried out at the NATO Secretary General press conference on March 4, 2022, NATO’s actions are defensive, built to prevent conflicts, not to provoke them. Alliances have a responsibility to ensure that the conflict does not escalate and prevent it from spreading beyond Ukraine, and if NATO gets directly involved in the war, it will spread the war to Europe and cause more suffering (NATO, 2022). This statement by the Secretary-General supports the view above of those concerned that the war could spread in Europe. However, NATO, together with the European Union and other partners, has imposed economic and political sanctions against Russia. To protect its members, the alliance has deployed armed forces to the borders of the states, especially on the eastern border.

NATO is a defensive organization, not an attack, and only takes action when there is an attack on its members, and in this case, it only takes action for defensive purposes (Webber and Sperling, 2016). Relating to this, Stoltenberg has stated that they have no obligations to defend Ukraine and that they will not send forces. Instead, NATO preferred to take deterrent actions by increasing the readiness of Russia’s force for a possible attack against its members and by reinforcing the command-and-control system (Government of Netherlands, 2022). NATO’s support for Ukraine will remain political rather than operational, and as it turns out, NATO remains dysfunctional as an organization, and no weapons material or equipment etc. are left to the discretion of the members to provide. NATO is not worried about this decision, but its main concern is to protect its members against Russian aggression. On Russia’s attacks and aggression, NATO has taken initiatives on readiness, defence plans, military, and technological developments, and also supported the defence against a possible attack on the eastern and northern regions of the Allies.

According to NATO statements, Russia’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and caused severe suffering and destruction, and this attack on Ukraine also threatens global security. That’s why NATO condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its attack on civilians in the strongest terms. She calls on Putin, the President of Russia, to stop the war immediately, although it does not do anything. They also stated that they would work with other international communities on violations of human rights and international law, and expressed their deep concern over human trafficking, sexual violence and other war crimes. To prevent these, Russia requested rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access and safe passage for civilians.

Ukraine has the fundamental right to self-defence under the United Nations Charter and international law. According to international law, legitimate warfare is possible only when there is an attack and there is an imminent threat of attack, and the measure that can be taken for this is only for self-defence, and the purpose of attack should not be considered. An attack by a country against another country for whatever reason is an unjust attack and results in a violation of international law. Since the attack, that is, the defence, against this unjust attack falls within the scope of self-defence, a violation does not occur under international law. Being aware of this, NATO stated that, as stated above, it will work with other international communities to hold Russia accountable for its violations.

In addition, NATO denies Russia’s claims -according to NATO fabricated narratives or manufactured ‘‘false flag’’ operations- as a cause of war and states that it can never be a just cause for war. On the other hand, they declared that Russia’s use of chemicals or weapons would be unacceptable and would have severe consequences.

If we examine the measures taken by NATO, it has been stated above that NATO is against Russia’s actions that disrupt international security and stability. In addition, NATO has developed Ukraine’s armed forces, strengthened its military capabilities and capacities, and enhanced its resilience. NATO allies have taken political and practical steps to support Ukraine and have declared that they will continue to underpin it. On the other hand, NATO allies have made a statement that they will support cyber security assistants against cyber attacks and provide protection against chemical, biological and radiological weapons threats. It also hosts millions of refugees as well as provides humanitarian support. To end the war, heavy sanctions have been applied and the actions will be continued by meeting with other international organizations and stakeholders. NATO will continue to take all measures to protect and defend the territories and security of all Allies.


The international arena is an arena of conflicts and quarrels, and it is a fact that serious consequences will arise if international law is not abode (Aksar, 2021). Although there is no legitimate war in international law, there is no legitimate basis for Russia to justify the war with its claims. In international law, self-defence is a right in terms of international peace and security law and a situation that eliminates illegality in terms of international responsibility law (Erkiner, 2021: 203). In this case, a conflict that occurs outside of self-defence in international law is unlawful. Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, which started on February 24, 2022, is not legitimate under international law, but Russia is trying to create a perception that this invasion is legitimate in line with the claims it puts forward. NATO, on the other hand, will act in line with its founding purpose, as explained above, and will implement its security policies within the framework of these goals and rules. According to NATO’s statements “NATO is a political and military alliance, whose principal task is to ensure the protection of its citizens and to promote security and stability in the North Atlantic area”. NATO does not intervene and acts in line with its founding purpose. Since Ukraine is not a NATO ally, it cannot assist Ukraine in line with NATO security policies, but, significantly, NATO allies provide the above-mentioned assistance, although it does not stop Russia. In addition to the sanctions imposed by state legal entities against Russia, some private legal entities have also tried to impose sanctions on Russia. Although all these have great effects on Russia, Russia continues the occupation process today. In accordance with NATO security policies, it cannot take any action other than these.

Eren Evren

International Organizations Studies


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