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OPINION

NATO Needs New Strategy Against Russia

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Robert Zapesochny By Wednesday, 06 March 2024 05:31 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

If you look at NATO's finances, former President Donald Trump's New York landlord strategy forced our NATO allies to spend more on defense. If a landlord's tenants don't fear an eviction notice, they have no incentive to pay the rent in full.  

In 2016, NATO's European members and Canada spent only a combined $262 billion dollars. After President Trump took office, our NATO allies increased their defense spending every year he was in office. 

Canada and NATO's European allies spent a combined $314 billion dollars on defense in 2020. 

It should be noted that these NATO figures were adjusted for inflation using 2015 prices and exchange rates. As far as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is concerned, Trump's threats have forced more NATO countries to honor their agreement to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense.

In 2014, only three NATO members were spending at least 2% of their GDP on defense. In February, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that he expected that 18 out of 31 NATO members will spend 2% of their GDP on defense this year. 

These figures do not include Sweden, which was only recently admitted as the 32nd member of NATO.

"In 2024, NATO Allies in Europe will invest a combined total of 380 billion U.S. dollars in defense. For the first time, this amounts to 2% of their combined GDP," said Stoltenberg. 

As a percentage of GDP, NATO's European members increased their defense spending from 1.48% in 2017 to 1.75% in 2020. 

Russia's war in Ukraine and President Trump's rhetoric have forced many NATO members into compliance.

While I believe that all NATO members should honor Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, they should also honor Article 3. Article 3 of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty states: "In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack."

Beyond spending, NATO needs a new strategy against Russia. I think it is now obvious that Ukraine's 2023 counteroffensive has failed. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed to journalist Tucker Carlson that he invaded Ukraine because he believes that parts of Ukraine belong to Russia. Putin was obviously irritated by NATO expansion and the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Ukraine, but Russia's claims on Ukrainian territory began centuries before the creation of NATO.

Putin is winning the war and the sanctions have backfired. We need a new strategy that follows the example of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (1976-2024).

In 2011, Navalny called out Putin's United Russia Party as "the party of crooks and thieves." Navalny was an effective activist because he exposed the level of corruption in Russia. 

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian's richest and most powerful citizens have consistently sent billions of dollars abroad. In 2019, Oleg Komolov, an assistant professor at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, wrote a paper on capital outflows in the Russian economy. 

From 1998 to 2018, Komolov wrote, "If we sum the figures, we can get the total amount of net capital outflow from the Russian economy over the 20 years: 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars (this amounts to about 70% of annual GDP of Russia)."

In 2018, Navalny said, "I want to live in a normal country and refuse to accept any talk about Russia being doomed to being a bad, poor, or servile country."

Capital flight is inevitable in a country that does not have the rule of law. In 2022, Russia's annual capital flight was its highest ever at $253 billion dollars. 

Swedish economist Anders Aslund wrote that Russia's main economic problem is capital flight: "The many weaknesses in the Russian economy nonetheless remain apparent. GDP has not grown above pre-2014 levels because of Western financial sanctions and its odious kleptocracy. It is not very stable. The exchange rate of the ruble jumps like a yo-yo. The underlying reason for this is massive capital flight, Russia's exclusion from international financial markets, and its limited liquid reserves. Russia also suffers from ever-tighter sanctions that cut the country off from critical technology such as advanced microchips."

Most Russians do not benefit from this corruption. Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and Russians need to work together to end the war and continue Navalny's work. 

The Russian people need political and economic reforms. To pay for these reforms, Russia needs to improve its relations with Western countries. 

It's not in America's interest to allow a country with thousands of nuclear weapons to collapse.

To help the Ukrainian people, the West and Russia should negotiate an end to the war immediately. Unfortunately, any deal will likely require some territorial concessions.

Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.

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RobertZapesochny
If you look at NATO's finances, former President Donald Trump's New York landlord strategy forced our NATO allies to spend more on defense. If a landlord's tenants don't fear an eviction notice, they have no incentive to pay the rent in full.
nato, trump, russia, ukraine
846
2024-31-06
Wednesday, 06 March 2024 05:31 PM
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