Air Command and Staff College, Air University Maxwell Air Force Base United States
This paper examines open source material to evaluate the claim that Russia poses an existential threat to NATO. The methodology focuses on Russian capability, capacity, and intention to threaten NATO members existence. While Russia does possess nuclear weapons, it does not desire nuclear war. Furthermore, the Russian military is comparatively inferior to NATO numerically, technologically, and economically and faces an uncertain demographic crisis that will limit its capacity to threaten NATO members. Because of this Russia will use other instruments of its national power to protect its interests, such as engaging in hybrid warfare. As such, the current US and NATO foreign policy of punishment and disengagement requires a new strategy that focuses on strengthening the alliance against non-traditional attacks and a return to detente and cooperation with Russia.