The NATO alliance was formed as a response to the threat posed after the Second World War by the Soviet Union. NATO’s purpose was to protect democratic nations against the spread of communism in Europe. NATO’s website states
“It commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to peaceful resolution of disputes. Importantly, the treaty sets out the idea of collective defense, meaning that an attack against one Ally is considered an attack against all Allies.”
The 12 founding member countries of NATO are:
Members of NATO have agreed to a system of collective defense for its members. This means that member states will step in and offer mutual defense when an outside party attacks one of the member states.
NATO also has what it calls aspiring members, who one day may join other states within NATO. This includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine. There are also 21 countries that are members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. This program is designed to build trust between the organization and states in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Members of this program include former republics of the Soviet Union: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Members of the program that are former republics of Yugoslavia are Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. European Union members of the program include Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden. Finally, the European Free Trade Association member Switzerland is also part of the Partnership for Peace program.
Is Ukraine part of NATO? Ukraine is not part of NATO, but it is an aspiring member. Ukraine and NATO relations started in 1994, and applied to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008. The 2010 presidential election of Viktor Yanukovych, who wanted to keep the country non-aligned, delayed Ukraine’s MA. After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, Ukraine’s new government made joining NATO a priority and Ukraine became a NATO aspiring member in 2018. On February 7, 2019, the Ukrainian parliament voted to change their constitution in order to help the country join NATO and the European Union.
Is Russia part of NATO? Russia is not part of NATO. The Russia-NATO Council was established in 2002 for handling security issues and joint projects. NATO decided to suspended cooperation with Russia in 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, not including the NATO-Russia Council. Russia and NATO have held several meetings since 2016, and NATO states that an improvement in their relationship with Russia is dependent on Russia’s compliance with international law and their commitments.
Is Turkey part of NATO? Yes, Turkey joined NATO in 1952.