In the fall of 2014 in an article called Will NATO fight, talk or trade? I wrote the following:
With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, the NATO alliance could have folded – and maybe should have folded, with its raison d’etre gone. But not only did the alliance continue, it aggressively pursued an expanded membership base and broader non-member relationships under the Partnership Action Plan.
Attempts to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, and partnerships with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Moldova caused considerable angst in Russia where they were seen treading on the Russian sphere of influence.
But as NATO has become wider, it has become shallower and less able to meet its own standards for the defense of its members. And a weak NATO may in fact be worse than no NATO at all, inviting aggression against it.
Russia, for all its bluster, still fears NATO encirclement and does not trust the United States. Leaving NATO in a posture where it lacks any real ability to fight is the worst of all possible worlds.