If a NATO member nation flagrantly and unjustifiably provokes attack by various means, can that nation then invoke Article 5? Or does that become a choice for each other NATO member nation to decide whether or not to defend them?

Edit: I'm asking this question completely divorced of current circumstances.

  • 5
    Have you read article 5? It lays out the conditions explicitly.
    – phoog
    Mar 1, 2022 at 20:36
  • Yes, I was simply unsure whether or not abstention in that very specific circumstance was permitted.
    – colelewis
    Mar 1, 2022 at 20:42
  • 1
    "I'm asking this question completely divorced of current circumstances." Yet the verbiage used sounds like a page from Russian propaganda "flagrantly and unjustifiably provokes attack", while still being vague. (Compare: "‘No choice but to invade Ukraine to defend Russia’, says Vladimir Putin" wionews.com/world/…) See e.g. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/18164/… for a non-vague version.
    – Fizz
    Mar 2, 2022 at 0:54
  • 4
    Does this answer your question? Is NATO obliged to invoke Article 5 if one of its members attacks another member?
    – Alexei
    Mar 8, 2022 at 11:01
  • @Fizz: That would be a stronger argument were Ukraine actually part of NATO.
    – Vikki
    Mar 20, 2022 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


Looks like a pretty easy call. If it really was a nation trying to get NATO to take on a fight that it had provoked, the other countries could just walk away from supporting it in this case. See bolded text.

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 .

  • 2
    Hello, I appreciate your answer! It was a hypothetical question that had popped into my head given the circumstances, I hadn't meant anything by it other than just curiosity. The situation I was thinking of would be if a nation attempted to use NATO's collective defense as a weapon and it was abundantly clear to the world that doing so was their aim.
    – colelewis
    Mar 1, 2022 at 20:37
  • 1
    Welcome aboard. As you can guess the current situation has everyone a bit on edge and downvotes tend to fly about quickly. We've had a number of questions about Article 5 in the past - such as what happens when one NATO member attacks another - though I don't know if your specific one was covered. Maybe adding that your question is strictly unrelated to current affairs would be helpful. Mar 1, 2022 at 20:42
  • @colelewis "it was abundantly clear to the world that doing so was their aim." If the world includes the other NATO countries, then everything is fine. Mar 1, 2022 at 20:42
  • 1
    Come to think of it, I wonder if that deems necessary clause was added as a result of WW1, where blindly following the dictates of the alliance framework was what launched the war from a fairly minor incident in a backwater (Franz Ferdinand getting killed in domestic terrorism). Mar 1, 2022 at 20:49

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