What possible challenges could NATO face if Russia achieves its objective in the Ukraine war?

  1. diplomatic
  2. strategic

2 Answers 2


Regardless of whether the Russian Federation wins or loses, NATO is going to have to re-evaluate its ability to effectively prevent Russia's aggression.

While NATO was designed as a defensive alliance, it will now have to take into account the fact that Russia has to be treated as a rogue state.

  • Russia completely and blatantly violated multiple treaties to which it was a party. There is now no Reason to allow for any credence to be given to any statement made by anyone in the Russian leadership nor to view treaties as anything other than clarifications of position statements. Russia's signature on any treaty is now completely worthless.
  • NATO was designed to contain the USSR's expansion after the WWII. However, military containment of Russia is no longer the most immediate priority. Containment of Russia will have to be treated as the last and ultimate goal. The more immediate goals will be containment of Russia's ability conduct commerce and corrupt political processes outside of Russia and creation of a new military strategy to combat Russia's newly-found expansionism.
  • Ironically, this may mean that NATO will have to practice everything that Russia has been falsely accusing NATO of doing so far. Namely, NATO may need to pursue some territorial expansion by inviting new allies which can provide a better geographical strategic position for presenting a united military front against Russia. And, for the 1st time ever, NATO may need to reformulate its defensive strategy by developing a preemption doctrine.
  • NATO may need to develop a strategy for addressing all nations not considered to be signatories to the Geneva Convention. Since Russia cannot be viewed as a credible signatory to any treaty, it will not be treated as a signatory to any convention, be that any battle-field standards, non-proliferation stance, or even any environmental or humanitarian stance.
  • Given Russia's threats of nuclear strikes in response to even conventional-military loses, the MAD stance will have to re-iterated. Any use of nuclear weapons, by Russia against any NATO countries, will result in certain destruction of both Russia's political leadership and all population centers by nuclear weapons.

I am sorry if this seems like I am trying to express my wishes rather than any actual analysis, but for what it is worth, I find the whole situation very regrettable.

Having said that, rather than respecting Russia's wishes, the only view which will be treated as acceptable in the immediate future will be any view which counters Russia's wishes. Russia's calculation that "the West" would try to buy it off, in order to keep the peace, has proven wrong.

The camel's proverbial back has been broken. And "the West" has woken up to the realization that it must do whatever it takes, rather than just whatever non-violence allows, to keep the threat of a violent Russian aggression at bay.

  • 5
    "Russia completely and blatantly violated multiple treaties to which it was a party" which ones?
    – alamar
    Apr 24, 2022 at 9:32
  • 1
    @alamar that sounds like a separate question.
    – wrod
    Apr 24, 2022 at 13:08
  • 3
    @wrod the entirety of your answer depends on this one (not obvious) statement bring true so asking for evidence is reasonable considering that it's a questionable claim.
    – uberhaxed
    Apr 25, 2022 at 18:55
  • @uberhaxed well, if such question gets asked, I would be happy to refer to it. But It's too long to explore in comments and it's too tangent of an issue to double the length of the answer in order to fully explore it. Thankfully, as a stand-alone question, it would be fairly short and clear. And it's already posited as a question in the comment, so if there is genuine interest, it should be asked as a question.
    – wrod
    Apr 25, 2022 at 19:38

Small frame challenge: what are Russia's objectives in its fight with Ukraine? To the best of my knowledge, no one actually knows.

Vladimir Putin is a one-man show. Even his closest advisors were unaware of his action plan, except for the ones explicitly necessary for executing it.
It's not a mere failure to inform. Putin took explicit action to misinform both the West and Russia about whether he'd enter Ukraine or not. He has changed the story about what his goals are more than once.

I have myself made the strategic mistake of attempting to estimate Russia's objectives in the conflict. Since then, I've learned about other details that complicate the equation with economic factors.

To the best of my ability to extrapolate, if Russia achieves Russia's objectively important and openly stated objectives in the war, the challenges for NATO will be:

  1. Diplomatic - a need to settle Ukraine's neutrality status and security guarantees, while formulating a victory statement.
  2. Strategic - in 1998, NATO has adopted a policy of no longer restricting its expansion. This war will have demonstrated that Eastward NATO expansion involves a shooting war with Russia.

It's much harder to evaluate Putin's goals. They don't necessarily align with Russia's - he didn't so much campaign on a specific agenda as on the previous cabinet's failure. Taking his speeches as a basis, should Russia achieve Putin's objectives in the war, the challenges for NATO might include:

  1. Diplomatic - a need to arrange a treaty on borders between NATO's and Russia's spheres of influence, and to recognize such spheres.
  2. Strategic - pretty much the same, but also contending with the resurgence of another bloc on its Eastern border in Europe.

At this point in the war, this second option seems a fairly remote possibility. Putin has demonstrated that he's willing to go to war over alliance borders. He hasn't demonstrated that he's able to win one.

  • @wrod I don't know Putin's actual goals, and I don't think anyone but him does. Addressing the stated goals however is at least somewhat possible.
    – Therac
    Apr 24, 2022 at 7:54
  • I don't think that Putin knows his goals yet. What Russia is doing in Ukraine is military variant of exploratory surgery.
    – alamar
    Apr 24, 2022 at 9:35
  • 1
    @HK-51 half a million to a million forced relocations from Ukraine to Russia's far East (without a legal right to leave the country), which have already happened, is a pretty good indication what Putin is after -- more people.
    – wrod
    Apr 24, 2022 at 13:00
  • @wrod citation needed
    – alamar
    Apr 24, 2022 at 14:59

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