How the West marshaled a stunning show of unity against Russia

By | March 5, 2022

The New York Times reports:

The day after Russian tanks and troops poured across the Ukrainian border on Feb. 24, NATO leaders received a deeply frightening message. The alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, opened an emergency video summit by warning that President Vladimir V. Putin had “shattered peace in Europe” and that from now on, he would openly contest the continent’s security order.

However unlikely, Mr. Stoltenberg told the leaders, it was no longer unthinkable that Mr. Putin would attack a NATO member. Such a move would trigger the collective defense clause in the North Atlantic Treaty, opening the door to the ultimate nightmare scenario: a direct military conflict with Russia.

President Biden, who had dialed in from the White House Situation Room, spoke up swiftly. Article 5 was “sacrosanct,” he said, referring to the “one for all, all for one” principle that has anchored NATO since its founding after World War II. Mr. Biden urged allied leaders to step up and send reinforcements to Europe’s eastern flank, according to multiple officials briefed on the call.

Within hours, NATO had mobilized its rapid response force, a kind of military SWAT team, for the first time in history to deter an enemy. It was one in an avalanche of precedent-shattering moves, unfolding in ministries and boardrooms from Washington to London and Brussels to Berlin. In a few frantic days, the West threw out the standard playbook that it had used for decades and instead marshaled a stunning show of unity against Russia’s brutal aggression in the heart of Europe.

A “new normal,” Mr. Stoltenberg called it.

In truth, these 10 days in February shook the world, upending long-held assumptions, sundering decades of productive engagement, and wiping out billions of dollars of investment in Russia. It was anything but normal.

Much as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 set off a tumultuous cascade of changes across Europe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought the West to a comparable, if far more ominous, historical reckoning.

“That was an epochal, peaceful liberation,” Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies at Oxford University, said of Communism’s collapse. “This is an epochal, violent attempt at recolonization. As we were moved then with hope and excitement, so we’re moved now by horror, anger and fear.” [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email