There are some who seem to think we are back in a new cold war. They highlight aggressive actions by Russia. They respond with aggressive words, and with some sanctions. They see NATO as able to limit Russia’s aggression.
They should remember how bad the Cold War was, and remember that in those days the West knew the limits to its power. NATO spent much more of its income on defence, had larger forces than today, but decided it could do nothing about Russian aggression in any part of Eastern Europe. We watched as Russia invaded and subjugated an unhappy Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The NATO defensive umbrella, backed by the formidable nuclear arsenal of the USA, ensured Russian expansion would stop at the East German border.
Today things are not as bad as in the Cold War days. The main countries that wished to leave Russian control have done so. There are many more free states and peoples in Eastern Europe. Russia herself has changed a bit, with more free enterprise. At times Russia wishes to be a more mature power in the world, but in other ways behaves badly towards neighbours. Russia understands the NATO pledge to support all its members, and has concentrated on gaining influence or control in non NATO members close to its borders.
The west rightly condemns aggression to take territory and control people who do not wish to be ruled under Russian influence. The West also rightly has not made the position of people in East Ukraine or Georgia worse by intervening in the local wars. The aim of Western policy should be by diplomacy and economic action to limit Russian expansion, without wanting to extend the EU and NATO in turn. I see no reason to extend a NATO guarantee wider than has already been granted, and no need to expand the EU ever eastwards.
All those who currently enjoy the NATO umbrella should also be expected to spend more of their money on maintaining good defences at home. The UK and US are the only two NATO countries to presently meet all the requirements on a NATO state. Those who want our protection should also spend 2% of national income on defence, and spend 20% of their defence budget on equipment.