Earlier in the war, Vladimir Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons if NATO kept helping Ukraine but while some members have stepped up military support, Putin’s nuclear threats appear to have stopped.
Sir Hew Strachan, a professor at the University of St Andrews, said: “Individual members – Britain principal among them – have proved ready to take risks which they rejected six weeks ago.”
NATO members have since agreed to sustain and further strengthen practical support for Ukraine.
The military alliance was, somewhat, reserved in its military support to Ukraine at the start of the conflict as its members were, and continue to be, determined to help their ally while ensuring the war doesn’t escalate beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Just weeks into the war, Russia claimed it retains the right to use nuclear weapons if the country is “provoked” by NATO.
Putin, at the time, threatened Western nations with “consequences you have never seen” if they dared intervene to help the Ukrainians.
As Ukraine is now a member of NATO, the alliance’s policy means members can supply Ukraine with defensive weapons rather than offensive weapons that could be used by Ukraine to launch a counterattack on Russia.
This could provoke Russia to respond and should it attack the NATO country that supplied the weapons, it could trigger Article 5 – and lead to an all-out war.
This was the West’s concern about initially supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine.
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Mr Strachan said: “The West has successfully called Vladimir Putin’s bluff. The always dodgy distinction between defensive and offensive weapons, so central to the debate in the aftermath of the Russian invasion, is being progressively put to one side.”
US President Joe Biden is one NATO member leader who appears to have dropped some of the initial risk-aversion that he had for supporting Ukraine in the conflict.
Mr Strachan said: “Then he [Joe Biden] was worried by the fear of triggering what he called ‘World War 3’; now – as he promises $800million for Ukraine – he talks of setting ‘the stage for the next phase of the war’ on what he calls ‘the front lines of freedom'”.
Meanwhile, NATO countries have shifted the delivery of weapons systems which Ukrainians are familiar with and have begun providing training to the country’s troops.
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The International Relations professor said: “They [NATO members] provide the training, both in their own countries and (it would seem from some reports) in Ukraine itself.
“They no longer necessarily proceed covertly or indirectly, but trumpet what they are doing, advertising to the world their direct support to Ukraine and so signalling that they, not just Ukraine, are in this for the long haul.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently revealed that dozens of Ukrainian soldiers are training in the UK and learning how to use 120 British armoured vehicles before returning with them to use in the conflict.
Mr Johnson, during a trip to India, said: “I can say that we are currently training Ukrainians in Poland in the use of anti-aircraft defence, and actually in the UK in the use of armoured vehicles”.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Strachan said: “By treating Ukraine more as an ally than a partner (Britain’s Integrated Review drew a distinction between the two), they come closer to denying Putin the objective for which he launched this invasion in the first place – to keep Ukraine out of NATO.”