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Complicated History of NATO-Russia Power Rivalry

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is a strong military and political alliance that has been acting in line with the common interests of its members in world politics, with its strategies and approach to global crises. After World War II, NATO was founded in 1949 by twelve founding member countries to ensure the security of its members, especially since Europe and the United States saw the enlargement and strengthening of the Soviet Union as a threat. The current goals of the alliance are listed as peace and security in Europe and North America, ensuring stability at home by engaging outside of NATO, and adapting to new security challenges as the world changes. The invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the prolonged power rivalry of years between NATO and Russia, comprehending the history of NATO, and its strategies over the continent is very prominent to understand the reasons behind the current situation and conflicts among members. In this article's first part history behind NATO’s establishment and the relationship between the alliance and Russia will be explained, in the second part invasion of Ukraine and Türkiye’s political views will be gathered.



Although the relations between the USSR and the USA had always been strained, Roosevelt, who was the president of the USA until April 12th of 1945, knew that without the cooperation of the Soviet Union, ending the war was not more than a dream. Therefore, during World War II, Great Britain, the USA, and the Soviet Union dealt with the ongoing military problems together. However, towards the end of the war, distrust spread over this trio. Stalin requested Poland to have a pro-Soviet government for his country’s sake in the Yalta Conference; however, it was decided Eastern European countries have free elections after their liberation from Nazis. Stalin was already suspicious of the West’s intentions because of the delay to open the second front and this deepened his disbelief.


In Potsdam Conference, it was very clear that the Soviet Union was aiming to expand ideologically over Eastern Europe because they expected there could be a possible invasion in the future, coming from the West, and it seemed pro-Soviet countries could help to defend the borders effectively. On the other hand, Truman and Churchill always described the expansion of communism as a threat because Western economies have always been shaped around capitalist and liberal policies. Some political commentators asserted that the explosion of the atomic bomb was a warning sign for USSR because Stalin was informed at the last minute about the atomic bomb.


Winston Churchill's speech at Westminster College in 1946 is often considered the starting point of the Cold War. Churchill described the division of Europe by stating, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” Cold War was a battle of ideas, the big three countries never engaged directly in a hot war, but they were supporting the ideological groups in the other countries. For example, in the Greek Civil War, the USA supported the anti-communist groups while USSR supported communists. The USA supported the developing countries economically with Marshall Plan. USSR developed its atomic bombs and nuclear research was supported which led the country to become nuclear-powered. In addition, during Cold War, the CIA made anti-communist movies and used the power of media. There was no tolerance towards supporting communism and freedom of speech seemed to not contain criticizing political decisions against USSR and communism.



The Cold War era forced the world to choose between two hegemonic states. According to The Guardian commentator, the cold war was one of the most unnecessary tensions in the world because Stalin did not defend the ideal of world communism, he was a Russian nationalist who believed that communism could also be successful in a single state (Russia). In this case, he did not have a goal of spreading communism all over Europe, he wanted to ensure its security with pro-Soviet governments in a buffer zone. It also lacked the strength to wreak havoc on the West, because its army had suffered enough in the war and was facing economic difficulties. The commentator attributes the permanent glorification of Western politics against the eastern block was make people not criticize the steps taken after the cold war, for example, the continuation of NATO after the collapse of the Soviets. He states that both sides exhibit aggressive attitudes.


Although diversity of opinions about the two power holders’ historical and current steps, everyone is aware of the fact that the USA with the NATO members was the winner of the Cold War era. Rising economies such as China and cooperation between them against the West are followed carefully. Everybody is curious about who the winner will be this time.


Written by Nehir Türkmen

Edited by Melisa Altıntaş & Yağmur Ece Nisanoğlu


Works Cited:

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Detente | History & Facts.” Britannica, 27 May 2023, https://www.britannica.com/topic/detente


Alexander, Andrew. “The Soviet threat was a myth | Andrew Alexander.” The Guardian, 18 April 2002, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/apr/19/russia.comment


“What is NATO, why does it still exist, and how does it work? [2020 version].” YouTube, 8 April 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snXhtOpSXtI


“USA vs USSR Fight! The Cold War: Crash Course World History #39.” YouTube, 18 October 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9HjvHZfCUI


“What Will Russia Do After the War?” The National WWII Museum, https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/what-will-russia-do-after-war


BACKGROUND: why did the USA and USSR start to mistrust each other? The 2 sides were enemies long before they were allies in WWII, https://www.painsley.co.uk/files/hcihmcl/history/paper_1_revision/cold_war/Origins%20of%20Cold%20War%20Revision.pdf


“Major Cold War Events - Student Center.” Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/study/major-cold-war-events


Images By:


KW Photography, and Alamy Stock Foto. “The Cold War as narrative? Old paradigms and new emotions.” 9 October 2019, https://www.zois-berlin.de/en/publications/zois-spotlight/archiv-2019/the-cold-war-as-narrative-old-representations-and-new-emotions


“WINSTON CHURCHILL DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR.” Imperial War Museums, https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205195912


U.S. Army NATO. “NATO: Past, Present and Future - Canadian Global Affairs Institute.” cgai.ca, September 2019, https://www.cgai.ca/nato_past_present_and_future


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