North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

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As a military alliance with roots in the Cold War, NATO's strategy and purpose have had to shift since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. RAND has assisted U.S. and European defense establishments by recommending expansion strategies; analyzing activities in the Balkans and Afghanistan, areas outside NATO's traditional focus; and advising decisionmakers on issues critical to NATO's mission and the interests of its member nations.

  • Sweden's Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto and Finland's Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen pose during a photo call in Stockholm, Sweden, February 2, 2022, photo by Paul Wennerholm/ TT News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    Finland and Sweden Mull NATO Membership

    Mar 3, 2022

    After decades of military neutrality between NATO and Russia, recent events saw a potential sea-change in how Finland and Sweden consider their role with the NATO alliance. NATO leadership could start planning now so that if Sweden and Finland make the jump to joining the alliance, they can be welcomed in quickly.

  • Destroyed military vehicles on a street, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, March 1, 2022, photo by Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Ensuring Russia's War with Ukraine Doesn't Morph into Direct Conflict with NATO

    Mar 2, 2022

    Russia has launched an unprecedented act of aggression against Ukraine. The United States and its allies must respond forcefully. But as they do, they should take into account the possibility of triggering a spiral of escalation that could lead to the only outcome worse than the invasion of Ukraine itself: a hot war between Russia and NATO.

Explore North Atlantic Treaty Organization

  • An Afghan woman holds her child as she and others wait to receive package being distributed by a Turkish humanitarian aid group in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 15, 2021, photo by Ali Khara/Reuters

    Commentary

    It's Time for the West to Engage with the Taliban

    As a winter crisis looms, the Afghan people need support more than ever. Economic collapse and isolation risk provoking deeper instability, insecurity, and repression. The international community should now look seriously at making a deal with the Taliban to address these risks.

    Dec 17, 2021

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends his annual special televised question and answer session at Moscow's World Trade Centre, June 30, 2021, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Reuters

    Commentary

    Deterring Putin in Eastern Europe

    After having gone years without a significant threat from Russia, NATO leaders and legislatures now may be recognizing that the security environment has changed and the more comfortable political status quo is gone. But if NATO were to decide to stand firmly together, conflict in Europe may be deterred and strategic stability restored.

    Dec 16, 2021

  • HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth after her maiden operational deployment in Portsmouth, United Kingdom, December 9, 2021, p

    Commentary

    Ready for Take-Off? The Next Generation of UK Maritime Air Power

    The recent deployment of a Carrier Strike Group represents a marked shift in the United Kingdom's ambitions and capabilities for power projection in both the maritime and air domains. The United Kingdom is hoping to work closely with NATO Allies to enhance the Alliance's collective ability to deploy maritime airpower as part of a flexible posture that can deter and respond to threats both close to home and far afield.

    Dec 10, 2021

  • Ukrainian Marines take part in multinational Sea Breeze 2021 military exercises involving more than 30 countries near Kherson, Ukraine, July 2, 2021, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    If Russia Invaded Ukraine

    The United States and NATO worry that Russia may be planning an invasion of Ukraine. A renewed crisis could spur the United States and its NATO allies to go beyond, perhaps well beyond, their responses to Russia's 2014 assault.

    Dec 8, 2021

  • EU Defence Ministers meet in Brussels, Belgium, November 16, 2021, photo by Mario Salerno/Council of the EU

    Commentary

    U.S. Support for European Strategic Autonomy Could Boost Transatlantic Solidarity and Security

    Leaders of EU member states and institutions have recently renewed calls for Europe to assume a greater role and increased autonomy in transatlantic and global security and defense. How can Europe and the United States work together to reduce misperceptions about strategic autonomy and chart an outcome that could enhance transatlantic solidarity and security?

    Nov 19, 2021

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an expanded meeting of the Russian Foreign Ministry Board in Moscow, Russia, November 18, 2021, photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS via Reuters

    Commentary

    How Could the U.S. React to Russia's Latest Posturing on Ukraine?

    Russia's military buildup along its border with Ukraine has been accompanied by dramatically tougher rhetoric in recent months. Russian President Vladimir Putin may believe Ukraine is at an inflection point and that it's time to up the ante. The risk of a major war seems real enough to justify a new U.S. approach.

    Nov 19, 2021

  • A soldier stands guard near a tank position close to the Russian border near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, March 24, 2014, photo by Dmitry Neymyrok/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Russia About to Make a 'Serious Mistake' in Ukraine?

    Russian military shifts and stinging Kremlin criticisms of Ukraine are raising questions about Moscow's aims. Russia's seizure and annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014 led to a strong Western response. What could be in store now?

    Nov 15, 2021

  • A large European Union flag lies at the centre of Schuman Square outside European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 8, 2021.

    Multimedia

    European Strategic Autonomy in Defence

    What does European strategic autonomy in defence mean for the EU, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and EU-U.S. relations? In this Expert Insights podcast, Lucia Retter, Stephanie Pezard, and Stephen Flanagan discuss the path towards greater EU defence integration and factors that affect how this autonomy develops going forward.

    Nov 9, 2021

  • Report

    European Strategic Autonomy in Defence: Transatlantic visions and implications for NATO, US and EU relations

    This study examines the meaning of European strategic autonomy in defence and its implications for the U.S., NATO and US-EU relations using a scenario methodology and transatlantic expert consultation.

    Nov 9, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Analysis of Russian Irregular Threats

    The authors of this report describe strategic global trends related to Russian global influence and behavior and provide an overview and assessment of hostile activities that Russia has undertaken in the face of these trends.

    Nov 8, 2021

  • The Baltic Way demonstration on the Riga-Bauska highway, near Kekava, Latvia, August 23, 1989, photo by Uldis Pinka/CC-BY-SA

    Report

    Civilian Resilience in the Baltic States

    Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have a history of resistance to foreign occupation. If the countries were occupied today, civilians could play a powerful role in their defense. They could impose costs on the occupier, deny consolidation, reduce capacity for repression, secure allied support, and expand popular support.

    Nov 1, 2021

  • U.S. and UK military leaders tour Main Operating Base Price, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, April 7, 2013, photo by Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    Reconsidering U.S. Decisionmaking Within NATO After the Fall of Kabul

    With NATO, the United States often tries to have it all: U.S. leadership of the alliance and increased allied burden-sharing. But the recent experience in Afghanistan shows how the form U.S. leadership takes can frustrate allies. Prioritizing allied preferences would help to preserve alliance unity and maybe even strengthen burden-sharing.

    Oct 25, 2021

  • Two U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, right, fly in formation with two Finnish F-18 Hornets, left, while en route to Turku, Finland, June 13, 2019, photo by Airman 1st Class Jovante Johnson

    Report

    Enhancing US-Finnish and regional defence cooperation: An exploratory analysis

    This study examines Finland's defence posture and the transatlantic dimensions of Finnish security policy in the context of a potential crisis in the Nordic-Baltic region.

    Sep 24, 2021

  • TV news anchor obscured by screen of interference over a Russian flag, images by namussi/Getty Images and Piotr Krzeslak/Adobe Stock; design by Rick Penn-Kraus/RAND Corporation

    Report

    Countering Russia's Malign and Subversive Information Efforts

    Information aggression is increasing in frequency and intensity. Russia uses messaging and intimidation in its efforts to influence multiple actors and countries. As frequent targets, how can the United States and its European allies defend themselves?

    Aug 16, 2021

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with the Russian Security Council

    Report

    Russia's Grand Strategy

    Understanding Russia's grand strategy can help U.S. decisionmakers avoid strategic surprise by better-anticipating Moscow's actions and reactions. A new report reviews Russia's declared grand strategy, and tests key elements of it against the actions of the Russian state.

    Aug 16, 2021

  • european flags on poles

    Project

    RAND Europe Improves Policy and Decision Making in Europe and Around the World

    RAND Europe is a not-for-profit research institute dedicated to helping improve policy and decision making through research and analysis. With offices in the UK and Belgium, its research portfolio complements RAND's and also includes choice modeling, evaluation, workplace wellbeing, and much more.

    Jul 22, 2021

  • Aerial of Thule Air Base, Greenland, photo by JoAnne Castagna, Public Affairs/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Commentary

    Mind the GIUK Gap

    For decades, NATO forces have used nearby bases to keep tabs on Russian submarines, surface ships, and aircraft transiting the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom Gap. Strong independence movements in Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Scotland could soon jeopardize this position.

    Jul 15, 2021

  • A Russian Mi-8 military helicopter is seen through a window while flying during a rehearsal for the Navy Day parade in Saint Petersburg, Russia, July 21, 2019, photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters

    Report

    How Would NATO Compete with Russia?

    Western threat perceptions of Russia have risen sharply in recent years, bolstered by its acts of military aggression, political interference, and efforts to expand its global influence. What would be the strengths, weaknesses, and risks for the United States, NATO, and Russia in a large-scale war?

    Jun 22, 2021

  • U.S. and French soldiers at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, March 2017, photo by U.S. Army

    Report

    Could France Support a U.S.-Led War in Eastern Europe?

    France has a greater range of capabilities than most other European militaries. It has remained strongly committed to NATO and bilateral defense cooperation with the United States. What capabilities might France bring to a hypothetical high-intensity conventional war against Russia?

    Jun 16, 2021

  • Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in flooded Staines-Upon-Thames, photo by Cpl Richard Cave LBPPA/Crown Copyright CC BY-NC 2.0

    Multimedia

    Crisis Response in a Changing Climate

    In this audio conversation, senior analyst Lucia Retter is joined by Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, the nonexecutive director for climate change and sustainability for UK Defence, to discuss a study on the implications of climate change for UK defence logistics in crisis response situations.

    Jun 4, 2021