LONDON — When leaders of NATO’s 28 member nations gather at a resort in the lush hills of Wales on Thursday, they will set the course for a military alliance that has long seemed adrift and archaic but has lately been given new vitality by an old foe: Russia.
Pushed to the point of irrelevance by the peace in Europe that it helped forge, NATO had until recently been casting about for a mission. It found one this year, with the dismemberment of Ukraine.
But NATO’s leaders will be under pressure this week to prove that the world’s most powerful military alliance is equal to the new challenge, and can still deter Russia in the way it did during the Cold War.
The evidence in recent months has suggested otherwise, with Russian troops and weapons pouring into Ukraine despite repeated NATO condemnations and warnings. Analysts say that NATO is unlikely to make any bold moves this week that could change the trajectory of the conflict, particularly following news of apparent diplomatic progress on Wednesday. Ukraine is a NATO partner, not a member, and the alliance has repeatedly made clear that it is unwilling to deploy military forces or send arms.