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The United Kingdom is a member of NATO. Does Article 5 bind the allies to defend a member that is in another country's soil, waters or airspace?

Suppose that the HMS Defender had been damaged or even sunk. Would NATO members have been forced by the Treaty to attack Russia?

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    I don't think this is a duplicate. The Turkey question was about Turkey deciding to go to war. In the case of an attack on HMS Defender, the UK would be the innocent victim of an aggression by Russia. Of course this assumes that the other NATO members would agree with the UK "innocent passage" position and also not recognise the annexation of Crimea, which AFIAK is the case. Either way these issues would be best dealt with in an answer. Jun 29 at 10:26
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    If the Turkey question doesn't answer this question, then perhaps this one does? Yes, not the exact same situation either, but the answers would basically be the same.
    – Philipp
    Jun 29 at 12:50
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    @Philipp There are also a couple of important differences. Sinking a ship is very different from invading a country, in particular when it comes to be appropriate defensive measures. An answer to the question here would also need to comment on whether the Black Sea covered by the defensive pact treaty.
    – Arno
    Jun 29 at 14:09
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    @PaulJohnson If you check the history, the OP specifically accepted the duplicate (that's what it means when it says it was closed by Community) and specifically said it answered their question. I'm not sure there's any harm in reopening it, but the duplicate did fully answer this question, as OP intended it.
    – divibisan
    Jun 29 at 19:37
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    Does this answer your question? Why would NATO not defend its members against Russia?
    – Rekesoft
    Jun 30 at 9:15
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It would probably be open to interpretation and action would depend on what the UK did, what Russia did and how good a case the UK could make. This is because HMS Defender was not obviously operating in a NATO zone.

Citing the treaty:

Article 5
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .

Article 6
For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

  • on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the territory of Turkey or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;
  • on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

No one, including the UK, has anything to gain from starting a full-on war with Russia on this, even if an attack had happened. And the UK, at 12 miles out, carefully chose to stay out of actual territorial waters of Crimea, whether that is Russia or Ukraine.

After 45 years of Cold War posturing, the communication channels are most likely well-enough developed to avoid an accidental war.

If an actual attack had taken place, which it did not, one would expect more sanctions against Russia, though not UN-backed due to Russia's veto.

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