The European Union since its formation has eschewed a single continent-wide military force with nations preferring instead to retain some sovereignty and keep their own militaries intact, but the alliance actually took a step towards creating a unified joint force on Monday.

Twenty-three of the 28-nation alliance signed onto a program of joint military investment in equipment, research, and development.

The intention eventually is to develop joint European military abilities for use within NATO or for operations outside of the alliance.

In addition, the effort is seen as moving to prevent fragmenting European military spending while promoting joint projects aimed at reducing redundancy, waste, and expense.

Federica Mogherini called the deal a “historic moment in European defense” at a signing ceremony at NATO HQ in Brussels, Belgium.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister and a former defense minister, said the agreement was “a commitment for countries to do better together,” noting that it “comes at a time of significant tension” in Europe.


Analyst comment: Clearly this effort is aimed at countering increased Russian aggression in the region, even as some suggest that fracturing NATO could be a way for Moscow to not only defeat the alliance in combat but in doing so forwarding its goal of becoming the hegemonic power in Europe (and beyond). 

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