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Indiana University expert: Russia’s aggression presents challenge for NATO

Released: 3-Sep-2014 3:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Indiana University
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Newswise — Putin’s aggressive moves in Ukraine lay down a challenge to NATO as the organization’s members meet this week in Wales, according to David P. Fidler, an Indiana University legal and global security expert. Fidler says Putin’s objectives include ensuring Ukraine never joins NATO, undermining NATO's credibility and weakening U.S. influence as projected through NATO.

“Putin has picked this fight when NATO is under significant stress and scrutiny,” said Fidler, the James Louis Calamaras Professor of Law at the IU Maurer School of Law. “NATO's withdrawal from Afghanistan is happening with an Afghan government in turmoil and the Taliban resurgent, and Libya's descent into political chaos has tarnished the alliance's earlier military intervention in that country.”

By exploiting a crisis in NATO’s backyard, Fidler added, Putin aims to diminish NATO's appetite for "out of area" operations, reducing another of Russia's longstanding concerns about NATO and the power it -- and the United States -- could project to the detriment of Russian interests.

“The Ukrainian crisis is forcing a reckoning within NATO about matters the alliance managed to avoid for too long,” Fidler said, “including how different levels of economic relations of NATO countries with Russia affect alliance politics, the lack of sufficient defense spending in many NATO members, and how the alliance will handle the impact of cyber technologies on the military and intelligence aspects of its collective defense mission. The NATO summit in Wales is important, but it is just one early step in a long-term project to reinvigorate the alliance.”

Fidler can be reached at 812-855-6403 or dfidler@indiana.edu.

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