NATO: The countries that would need to respond if Article 5 is triggered

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Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have so far refused to become physically involved in the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. The latter is not a member of the alliance and members are conscious of not escalating the conflict with Moscow to all out war in Europe.

Along with a non-commitment to send troops to fight alongside Ukraine, members of NATO have decided against imposing a no-fly zone over the country.

Ben Wallace, the UK Defence Secretary has said if any NATO fighters were to shoot down a Russian jet, it would trigger Article 5, which would lead to all 30 member states being forced into the defence of one another.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “The triggering of that Article 5 would lead to a war against Russia across the whole of Europe.

“That is not a position that members of NATO are prepared to go”.

What is Article 5?

Explaining what Article 5 involves, NATO said: “The principle of collective defence is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty.

“It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.”

Collective defence means that an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.

In other words, an attack on one NATO country would be seen as an assault against all 30 members.

NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US.

The alliance has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian attack on Ukraine.

What would happen if Article 5 was activated?

If Article 5 was triggered as a result of NATO involvement in the war between Russia and Ukraine, it would almost certainly lead to all out war in Europe.

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The potential for how big or long lasting any war could be is what’s preventing members of the alliance from further escalating the war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has previously warned that if a third World War were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons and be destructive.

More than a week ago, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin raised concerns of a nuclear war when he ordered Moscow’s nuclear deterrents to be raised to “special alert”.

Despite the alarming development, it doesn’t mean that Putin intends to use the nuclear warheads at his disposal.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Russia has the largest supply of nuclear weapons in the world.

The Kremlin owns approximately 4,447 warheads – the devices that trigger a nuclear explosion – of which 1,588 are deployed on ballistic missiles and heavy bomber bases.

A further 977 strategic warheads and 1,912 nonstrategic warheads are kept in reserve by Moscow.

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