The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Would NATO countries then declare war on Russia? Would they have sent troops to the region? While it wouldn’t be likely that NATO ground forces would be rushed to Georgia immediately, I would expect NATO Air Forces would get into the action rather quickly, and help force a cease fire that would be favorable to the Georgians, and then NATO ground forces would be sent to Georgia to help stabilize the peace. The NATO air power wouldn’t necessarily have to engage the Russians, given the superiority of NATO fighters, it is likely that the Russians would leave the skies, and pull back their troops less threatening positions.
All this talk about “if” Georgia was part of the NATO treaty doesn’t mean much, since they are not. Could it be that Russia’s real goal was to set back the process of Georgia’s acceptance into NATO? There is no doubt that Russia has done some damage to the Georgian military, which will take time to rebuild to NATO standards. Could this move backfire on Russia and draw Georgia into NATO sooner rather than later? It is hard to say right now, while the Russians are agreeing to a cease fire right now, there are still reports of fighting on the ground. Once the current conflict has ended, we’ll see how this shakes out.