14 years on, NATO returns to Bucharest to renew an accession vow Moscow saw as a declaration of war

NATO foreign ministers are meeting at the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest today, and some feel the transatlantic alliance is returning to the scene of the crime. It was here at this palace in 2008 that George W. Bush strong-armed European allies into declaring that Ukraine and Georgia « will become members of NATO » (overcoming the strong objections of Germany and France).

In Moscow’s view, this was a declaration of war from the West. Within Western Europe, many saw it as unnecessarily antagonising Russia. Others say the Bush administration (then in its lame duck period before Obama took office a month later) was logically preparing for Putin’s inevitable expansionism, which would have come whether Russia felt antagonised and surrounded by NATO or not.

Whichever side of the debate you fall on, that NATO is here in Bucharest again 14 years later dealing with a war in Europe is a poignant full circle.