Ukraine - What is NATO and why doesn't Russia trust it?
Members of NATO are weighing up how far they should go to help Ukraine, in the face of a possible Russian invasion.
The alliance - which includes the US, the UK, France and Germany - is stepping up military readiness and aid to Ukraine.
Article for the BBC 25.01.22
What is NATO?
NATO - the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - is a military alliance formed in 1949 by 12 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK and France.
Members agree to come to one another's aid in the event of an armed attack against any one member state.
Its aim was originally to counter the threat of post-war Russian expansion in Europe.
In 1955 Soviet Russia responded to NATO by creating its own military alliance of Eastern European communist countries, called the Warsaw Pact.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of former Warsaw Pact countries became NATO members. The alliance now has 30 members.
Is Russia preparing to invade Ukraine?
What is Russia's current issue with NATO and Ukraine?
Ukraine is a former Soviet republic bordering both Russia and the EU.
It is not a NATO member, but it is a "partner country" - this means there is an understanding that it may be allowed to join the alliance sometime in the future.
Russia wants assurances from Western powers that this will never happen - something the West is not prepared to offer.
Ukraine has a large population of ethnic Russians and close social and cultural ties to Russia. Strategically, the Kremlin sees it as Russia's backyard.
How will we know if war has started in Ukraine?
What else is Russia concerned about?
President Putin claims Western powers are using the alliance to surround Russia, and he wants NATO to cease its military activities in eastern Europe.
He has long argued the US broke a guarantee it made in 1990 that NATO would not expand eastwards.
NATO rejects Russia's claims and says only a small number of its member states share borders with Russia, and that it is a defensive alliance.
Many believe the current build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border may be an attempt to force the West to take Russia's security demands seriously.
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