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.

  • Commentary

    How Finland and Sweden Bolster NATO

    In response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have joined NATO. These two small Nordic countries have outsized strategic and military benefits for the alliance.

    Mar 7, 2024

  • Commentary

    From Forward Presence to Forward Defense: NATO's Defense of the Baltics

    The Baltic states remain vulnerable to a potential Russian military attack due to their geography. They are watching closely as NATO begins pivoting its posture of deterrence by punishment to deterrence by denial.

    Feb 14, 2024

Explore North Atlantic Treaty Organization

  • Brochure

    Brochure

    Spotlight 2021–2022

    Spotlight 2021-2022 highlights selected RAND Europe projects that address the important issues of our time. It also features research that is poised to make a difference in the coming year.

    Feb 23, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Nasty, Brutish, and Short—The Future of Space Operations in the Absence of the Rule of Law: Addressing Congestion, Contestation, and Competitiveness in the New Space Era

    Existing treaties and laws are not sufficient to govern space given the dramatic growth in space activity. Ensuring a safe, secure, and prosperous space for all nations may require the application of social contract theory to space governance.

    Feb 15, 2022

  • U.S. Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker/Research Vessel Healy breaking ice in the Arctic, November 30, 1999 , photo by U.S. Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Military May Need to Invest More in Arctic Capabilities

    Operating in the Arctic is inherently expensive. Despite this, it could be critical that the United States make the necessary investments to ensure a robust ability to operate in the Arctic to withstand Russian challenges there.

    Feb 10, 2022

  • Flags wave outside the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021, photo by Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

    Commentary

    Should NATO Close Its Doors?

    In their current confrontation with Russia, the United States and its allies are defending a dangerously anachronistic principle: that all of Russia's European neighbors should be free to seek NATO membership and that NATO should be free to incorporate them. But maintaining this open-ended process of NATO expansion is likely to produce further conflicts.

    Feb 2, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Sustaining the Promise of Mainz

    This chapter reviews way to revitalize elements of President George H.W. Bush's vision of Europe whole, free, and at peace given the unraveling of arms control agreements, the return of armed conflict, and the deterioration of democratic governance and rule of law in several European countries.

    Feb 2, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    NATO From Liaison to Enlargement: A Perspective from the State Department and the National Security Council 1990–1999

    This chapter examines the internal U.S. government debate on NATO's transformation and enlargement and how these initiatives pursued by the George H.W. Bush and Clinton Administrations shaped a new post-Cold War security order in Europe.

    Feb 2, 2022

  • U.S. President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the White House in Washington, D.C., December 7, 2021, photo by The White House/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden's Rhetoric on Ukraine Has Been Quite Moderate. Here's What That Means

    President Biden's public statements since December have focused on how further Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in material consequences. His rhetorical restraint may have important implications for the current conflict.

    Jan 18, 2022

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attend security talks, Geneva, Switzerland, January 10, 2022, photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

    Commentary

    Speaking Aloud What NATO Has Left Unsaid Could Help Ease Ukraine-Russia Impasse

    A statement that NATO has no intention to offer Ukraine membership at present should only be made in return for a tangible drawdown of Russian forces on the border. It concedes nothing to declare that NATO is not planning to do something it has no intention of doing anyway.

    Jan 13, 2022

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, December 16, 2021, <a href=

    Commentary

    Russia May Underestimate Ukraine and NATO

    Moscow has unveiled outlandish security demands that sound aggressive and suggest that it may underestimate both NATO and Ukraine. Kremlin leaders might consider instead seeking a stable European security architecture that protects Russia's interests while also allowing for a vibrant and sovereign Ukraine.

    Dec 27, 2021

  • 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