Today on March 19, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) will host NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen for a Statesman’s Forum address on the importance of the transatlantic alliance and how the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is evolving to address new common security challenges.

– Russia was among those who committed in 1994 to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Russia has called into question its credibility and reliability as an international actor. And its steps to annex Crimea are a clear violation of the UN charter. Russia must honor its international commitments; said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

“We live in a different world than we did less than a month ago,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a Brookings Institution forum. “Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine is in blatant breach of its international commitments and it is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is a wake up call for the Euro-Atlantic community, for NATO, and for all those committed to a Europe whole, free and at peace.”

In many respects, our world today is a much better place, but its also a much more complex world and sources of conflict certainly continue to exist. Now, We have seen Russia rip up the international rule book. Trying to redraw the map of Europe.  And creating in just a few weeks the most serious security crisis since the end of the Cold War. This sort of behaviour goes against international norms. And it simply has no place in the 21st century.

Since the Ukraine crisis began, the United States, in the context of the alliance, has sent more F-16 fighters to Poland and F-15 fighters to the Baltics. It has begun Airborne Warning and Control System, or Awacs, flights over the Polish and Romanian borders, and has ordered more exercises with warships in the Black Sea.

“As NATO allies,” President Obama said on Monday, “we have a solemn commitment to our collective defense, and we will uphold that commitment.”

These latest events have heightened tensions and added new layers of complexity to an already precarious situation.

As the crisis in Ukraine shows that security in the Euro-Atlantic area cannot be taken for granted, the secretary-general will discuss NATO’s essential role in an unpredictable world to outline the agenda for the September NATO summit in Wales as a critical opportunity to ensure that the alliance has the military capabilities necessary to deal with the threats it now faces, to consider how NATO members can better share the collective burden of defense and to engage constructively with partners around the world.

Strong defence and deterrence have ensured peace and stability in Europe for almost 70 years. The political, economic and military bonds between Europe and North America remain as important as ever in the defence of our common values shared by the United States and Europe, And we agree that this is an opportunity to make Europe stronger. We have collective responsibility to defend what we have worked so hard to build over the last 70 years.

Our Baltic world was always a world between the East and the West. As the Cold War was replaced by unipolar peace, Sweden went to great lengths as did all the Nordics to assist the three vulnerable Baltic countries in every possible way in their struggle for independence and NATO membership, though Sweden itself chose to maintain its nonaligned policy.

Stability and security in the Nordic-Baltic region was never doubted in Stockholm, where every single government since the end of the Cod War has emphasized the significance of the transatlantic link.

The Kingdom of Sweden, flanked by Norway to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east, expands across much of the Scandinavian Peninsula and is one of the largest countries in the European Union by land mass. Despite its militaristic roots, Sweden has remained neutral in times of war for centuries. Instead, commitment to human rights, public service and sustainability have helped to make it a respected leader in international affairs.

Today, the Nordic-Baltic region is arguably one of the most deeply embedded spaces in the Euro-Atlantic community. The region is home to two of NATO’s most pro-active members Norway and Denmark as well as two of the Alliance’s most eager partners Sweden and Finland. Sweden and Finland also play prominent roles in shaping the EU’s role on the global stage.

NATO should offer membership to Sweden and Finland, and Sweden and Finland should accept. These two countries are the most active members in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Since the initiation of the program in 1994, both Sweden and Finland have participated in its full range of activities, including joint exercises, disaster management training, and cooperation on science and environmental issues. In the operational field, both countries have contributed troops and resources to several NATO-led missions, including in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Libya.

Both countries, too, have long been considered prime candidates for NATO membership, but historical and domestic factors — including long-standing policies of military nonalignment — have prevented them from taking the plunge, and NATO has not insisted.

20 years ago, Sweden joined NATO´s Partnership for Peace Programme. While sweden has participated in nearly all NATO missions since the end of Cold War, the operation in Libya as part of an international coalition uphold UNSC Resolution 1973 was actually the first air force deployment to a combat mission by Sweden in fifty years. However, such a scenario was unthinkable for Sweden with a more traditional peacekeeping mindset. The Swedes excelled and impressed their NATO HQ host in this role.

With the approval by NATO Allies 14 October 2013 Sweden joined the NATO Response Force (NRF), and Alliance’s largest exercise of the last seven years, Steadfast Jazz. Sweden has offered to send staff officers to exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013.

While Sweden is a NATO “partner,” it is not a member. But Deputy Prime Minister Jan Bjorklund recently hinted that the Russian intervention in the Crimea could lead to Sweden joining as a full member so it can benefit from the wider protections offered.

conference 19th March

Sweden now maintains a truly special relationship with NATO, with a privileged position in the partnership pool. As its number one partner, Sweden is in many ways closer to NATO, and a more reliable contributor, than several of the allied countries.

He said the ex-Soviet Baltic states were now facing a greater risk after Russia made the unexpected move to move troops into Ukraine-controlled Crimea.

More importantly, in a junior partner in Sweden’s four-party coalition government—said in interviews with reporters that Sweden now needs a “shift in doctrine,” so that the main task of its defense force will once again be defending Swedish territory and that Sweden should therefore consider membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Today, this is primarily a question of Russia. But ultimately, in the longer term, it could of course also be other countries, warns Carl Bildt. Clearly, we must also draw conclusions from this in terms of implications for Sweden. The Government has therefore given the Defence Commission more time to complete its work.

There seemed to have been a certain momentum as the Chicago Summit  (focusing on the Swedish Karakal contribution to the OUP in Libya)  with frequent op-ed articles and editorials in the major daily newspapers, most of them in favour of Sweden joining the Alliance, was sign of the close and special relationship between Sweden and NATO. The United States has also made it clear that it wants Sweden to play an even bigger role in transatlantic cooperation, and strongly encourages every step in that direction.

Sweden now maintains a truly special relationship with NATO, with a privileged position in the partnership pool. As its number one partner, Sweden is in many ways closer to NATO, and a more reliable contributor, than several of the allied countries.

We know that for many different reasons we cannot become full members of NATO at present. At the same time, History has taught us that certain values are indivisible. As Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said- “We can only deal with challenges to the foundations of Europe’s peace and security in close cooperation with our democratic partners. ..What we now need is stronger EU cooperation on foreign and security policy as well”.

There is a greatly increased risk of further attacks in the years to come – this could pose a clear danger to peace in Europe, warns Carl Bildt.

Those allies that joined NATO in the last two decades did so fundamentally because they wanted to be under the security blanket provided by the United States and NATO, and the events of the last three weeks remind them that that’s a good thing. NATO is committed to Western Balkans stability and security and to Euro-Atlantic integration nations aspiring to join our Alliance, say NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Today, reports are emerging, that two Ukrainian naval bases in Crimea have been taken over by pro-Russian forces or unidentified groups.  While initial reports suggest that the seizures of bases have so far occurred without bloodshed, such developments obviously carry grave risks. The UN Secretary-General is today on his way to Moscow and Kyiv as part of his on-going and intensifying good offices efforts.

NATO’s primary significance stemmed from its character as an alliance of democratic countries. Since taking officeo as North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 12th secretary-general in August 2009. Rasmussen has tirelessly argued that NATO’s main security threats now emanate from global challenges.

For this global network of partners, NATO is seeking states that share similar values and desire regular, structured dialogue and practical cooperation on global security issues. Still, it was not until the November 2010 heads-of-state summit in Lisbon that NATO governments committed to counter worldwide threats, while still reaffirming the foundational Article 5 commitment to joint territorial defense and the core principle of collective defense of all members against all threats.

A vital task for the Atlantic alliance now is to ensure that Article 5 — its commitment to collective defense — is seen to be firm and strengthened, said Ivo H. Daalder, a former American ambassador to NATO and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

That will mean additional deployments and exercises like November’s Steadfast Jazz, the first Article 5 exercise in more than a decade, which took place near Poland and the Baltics. Far more French troops took part than American ones, something that is likely to change for the next exercise, in 2015, scheduled to take place near the Iberian Peninsula.