The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II, with the purpose of securing peace in Europe. The alliance was created as a response to the Soviet Union's expansionist policies in the region, and aimed to provide a collective defense against any potential aggression. NATO, formed after World War II, is an intergovernmental alliance among European nations as well as Canada and the U.S..
Estonia and its fellow Baltic countries joined NATO on 29 March 2004, but the story of its path into the alliance goes much further back, to the early days of independence from the Soviet Union. Estonia saw NATO membership as a way to solidify its place in the international community and protect itself from potential Russian aggression. The country had to overcome significant obstacles to join NATO, including a lack of military resources and a small population.
For more than 30 years, NATO tried to build a partnership with Russia, developing dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest. However, the partnership was strained by Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and its ongoing support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. As Russia continues its attack on Ukraine, the role of NATO is at the forefront. The alliance has provided military support and economic sanctions against Russia, and has pledged to defend its member states against any potential aggression.