Editorial

The message to Russian President Vladimir Putin is abundantly clear in the decision of the North Atlantic Alliance to expand to 300,000 from 40,000 the number of military personnel prepared to move quickly to repel an attack on an alliance member. The decision shows the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will quickly and forcefully defend its members.

The message to Russian President Vladimir Putin is abundantly clear in the decision of the North Atlantic Alliance to expand to 300,000 from 40,000 the number of military personnel prepared to move quickly to repel an attack on an alliance member. The decision shows the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will quickly and forcefully defend its members.

<p>MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES</p><p>Russian President Vladimir Putin may take umbrage against defensive measures designed to block his imperial intentions, but he has no reasonable grounds for fearing NATO will invade his country.</p>

MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

Russian President Vladimir Putin may take umbrage against defensive measures designed to block his imperial intentions, but he has no reasonable grounds for fearing NATO will invade his country.

Mr. Putin and his ruling circle in Moscow might see weakness or lack of resolve in the failure of NATO to confront Russia’s invasion force in Ukraine. NATO countries are providing weapons, training and money to support Ukraine’s army, but since Ukraine is not a NATO member, they have not sent their own military forces under NATO command to drive back the Russian invaders.

The announcement this week by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg of a massive increase in the alliance’s rapid reaction force shows the alliance will hit back quickly and hard if Russia attacks one of the Baltic states or another eastern European NATO member in an effort to reconstruct the old Soviet empire.

<p>SUSAN WALSH / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES</p><p>The announcement this week by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg of a massive increase in the alliance’s rapid reaction force shows the alliance will hit back quickly and hard if Russia attacks one of the Baltic states or another eastern European NATO member.</p>

SUSAN WALSH / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

The announcement this week by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg of a massive increase in the alliance’s rapid reaction force shows the alliance will hit back quickly and hard if Russia attacks one of the Baltic states or another eastern European NATO member.

Those countries are nervously watching Russia’s cruel, relentless war against Ukraine and wondering if they are next on Mr. Putin’s list.

The alliance created its 13,000-member NATO Response Force in 2002, requiring each member state to specify which of its military personnel would be available for quick deployment. The force was expanded to 40,000 members in 2014 and now is being further expanded to 300,000.

This is a paper army in the sense that most of the personnel are in their home countries serving local needs. Training and planning work, however, ensures it can quickly turn into a fighting force at the behest of the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe. A few of those troops could be in battle on two days’ notice, a few more within a week and the rest over a period of months.

Canada already has about 700 personnel in Latvia as part of a battle group preparing to defend that country against an eventual Russian invasion.

Canada already has about 700 personnel in Latvia as part of a battle group preparing to defend that country against an eventual Russian invasion.

Expansion of this paper army threatens no one because its purpose is purely defensive. Mr. Putin may take umbrage against defensive measures designed to block his imperial intentions, but he has no reasonable grounds for fearing NATO will invade his country.

The alliance should press ahead with expanding its response force and with admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO membership. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded assurances about Swedish suppression of Kurdish terrorist groups before he would support Swedish membership; he should recognize, however, that his appeals for help against terrorists will be heard more sympathetically after Sweden joins the alliance.

Russia is a far greater danger to Turkey and every other NATO member than a few Kurdish refugees in Sweden.

Russia is a far greater danger to Turkey and every other NATO member than a few Kurdish refugees in Sweden.

NATO is the largest defensive military alliance in the world. After 73 years of operation, it stands as a strikingly successful system of collective security. It is achieving in part the purpose the United Nations organization was intended to achieve when it was created 77 years ago – the preservation of international peace.

NATO has not yet stopped Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, but it is already achieving far more in that direction than the UN, which cannot lift a finger without Russia’s permission. Since Russia wields veto power in the UN Security Council, it can never become a means of stopping Russian aggression.