Which countries are in NATO, what does it stand for and who's in charge?

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine do not appear to have been solved just yet and the Russians object to what they perceive to be a NATO presence that is too aggressive

Boris Johnson represents the UK as part of NATO, made up of 30 countries

The Russia and Ukraine crisis is continuing to rumble on the background, with NATO also at the center of it all.

Tensions between the two are reported to be at breaking point with the threat of an invasion by Vladimir Putin’s Russia into Ukraine remaining a possibility.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I honestly don’t think a decision has yet been taken (by Moscow). But that doesn’t mean that it is impossible that something absolutely disastrous could happen very soon indeed.”

“And our intelligence, I’m afraid to say remains grim. We’re seeing the massing of huge numbers of tactical battalion groups on the border with Ukraine.”

Mr Johnson also described any possible invasion as an “absolute disaster” and the UK has put 1,000 troops on standby.

Both the PM and Labor Party leader Keir Starmer have flown to Brussels as part of crunch talks.

The crisis is complicated and exists in part due to deep ties between Russia and Ukraine, as well as resistance to the idea of ​​Ukraine joining NATO.


What is NATO?

NATO was formed as the threat of Stalinist Russia loomed


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NATO is simply a military alliance of countries formed in 1949 that promise to come to each other’s aid in the event of an armed attack by another member state.

It was originally formed in the wake of World War Two as the threat shifted to a possible armed struggle with the Soviet Union.

In response, the Soviets created their own military alliance under the Warsaw Pact of 1955, which included the likes of Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic, then Czechoslovakia.

Since the Soviet Union resolved in 1991, the situation has become slightly more complicated, with the former Warsaw Pact states, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany (formerly East Germany) and Poland now all members of NATO.

What does NATO stand for?

NATO stands for the ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’.

NATO’s website said of its formation: “It is often said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union. This is only partially true.

“In fact, the Alliance’s creation was part of a broader effort to serve three purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.”

What countries are in NATO?

France’s Emmanuel Macron. The French are just one of 30 countries in the alliance which includes the UK, US and Germany


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NATO was originally formed with just 12 members, but has since expanded to 30 states. Russia views expansion of the organization as a threat, particularly on its own borders, which would be the case if Ukraine joined NATO.

Ukraine is a partner country of NATO and it is believed that they may be allowed to join the organization in the future.

A full list of the countries currently part of NATO and the year they joined is as follows:

  • Albania (2009)
  • Belgium (1949)
  • Bulgaria (2004)
  • Canada (1949)
  • Crotaia (2009)
  • Czech Republic(1999)
  • Denmark (1949)
  • Estonia(2004)
  • France (1949)
  • Germany (1955)
  • Greece (1952)
  • Hungary (1999)
  • Iceland (1949)
  • Italy (1949)
  • Latvia (2004)
  • Lithuania (2004)
  • Luxembourg (1949)
  • Montenegro (2017)
  • Netherlands (1949)
  • North Macedonia (2020)
  • Norway (1949)
  • Poland (1999)
  • Portugal (1949)
  • Romania (2004)
  • Slovakia (2004)
  • Slovenia (2004)
  • Spanish (1982)
  • Turkey(1952)
  • United Kingdom (1949)
  • United States (1949)

Who is in charge of NATO?

Boris Johnson pictured with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg


POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The person currently in charge of NATO is Jens Stoltenberg, who acts as the organisation’s Secretary General.

The Norwegian was the prime minister of his home country from 2000 to 2001 and then again from 2005 to 2013.

He took his current job in October 2014, taking over from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, once PM of Denmark.

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