Vladimir Putin may well have saved Nato, says Gérard Araud in Le Point. When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, the organisation became an alliance without an enemy. Besides a couple of missions in the Balkans to stop “inter-ethnic unrest”, its “raison d’être” gradually disappeared. Donald Trump, echoing public opinion, “marvelled that the United States was prepared to wage war for Montenegro”, and questioned why America was paying to protect rich European countries that weren’t making proper contributions of their own. Emmanuel Macron labelled the bloc “brain dead” and pushed for the EU to go its own way and build “strategic autonomy” from the US.
Enter Putin. The Russian leader has “realised the wildest dreams of the Atlanticists” – by squaring up to Nato, he justifies its existence. The previous decade of Russian military exercises in the Baltic Sea and the north Atlantic was “more annoyance than threat”, but an army of nearly 200,000 poised on the border with Ukraine is something else entirely. Finland and Sweden, which resisted joining Nato throughout the Cold War, have now announced they’ll sign up if Russia continues its “provocations”. Sweden has even brought back military service. Nato will not “wither away”, much as Paris might want it to, but will instead take on a new lease of life. “Thank you, Mr Putin!”