The impact of two projectilespresumably Russians, who have left two dead in Poland this Tuesday have once again put on the table the possibility of activating article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
It already happened in February, at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when the debate on the potential intervention of the United States and the Atlantic Alliance in the conflict began. Later, it was repeated when the general secretary of the organization, Jens Stoltenbergsaid he was willing to “protect every inch of NATO“. But what does the article establish?
The North Atlantic Treatysigned in Washington on April 4, 1949, regulates and defines the operation of an organization that, today, has 30 members (not counting Finland and Sweden, which formally requested their annexation in summer). Originally, this alliance was founded as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and article 5 of its founding charterknown as the principle of collective defenseIt was a deterrent mechanism.
[La OTAN señala a Rusia como “una amenaza” y se refiere por primera vez a China como “un desafío]
This principle stipulates that any “armed attack” against one of the NATO members is considered an aggression against all the countries of the alliance. Consequentlyeach of the members has the obligation, “in exercise of the right of individual or collective legitimate defense recognized by article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, to assist the Party or Parties attacked taking such measures as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force”.
Does that mean that a military confrontation between NATO and Russia could start? Before taking that step, Poland would first have to activate Article 5, which has only been invoked once: after the terrorist attacks in September 11, 2001.
Then the North Atlantic Council, the organization’s main political decision-making body, should meet with representatives of the various countries to discuss whether there has been an attack. And, in case of concluding that yes, define what is the “necessary” answer.
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