In a conference call with reporters ahead of this week’s NATO summit in Wales, White House Senior Director for European Affairs Charles Kupchan offered what seemed like tough words for Moscow: “Russia, don’t even think about messing around in Estonia or in any of the Baltic areas in the same way that you have been messing around in Ukraine.”
But there was no hiding the implication in Kupchan's words that NATO has effectively ruled out acting against Russia in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member though its current government desperately wants to join. That sense of de facto resignation over Ukraine previewed what most analysts expect to be the tone of a pivotal summit that begins Thursday.
Amid “the most dangerous European crisis since the Cold War’s end,” according to Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, the 28-member bloc is under intense pressure to shore up its frontlines – Central and Eastern Europe – from feared Russian encroachment, and to prove its mettle after months of anti-Moscow rhetoric backed by little action.