North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationIn the 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, NATO's role in world affairs changed, and U.S. forces in Europe were gradually reduced. Many East European nations sought NATO membership as a counterbalance to Russian power, but they, along with other European and Asian nations (including Russia), initially were offered only membership in the more limited Partnership for Peace,. formed in 1994. Twenty-three countries now belong to the partnership, which engages in joint military exercises with NATO. NATO is not required to defend Partnership for Peace nations from attack. In 2002, NATO and Russia established the NATO-Russia Council, through which Russia participates in NATO discussions on many nondefense issues.NATO has increasingly concentrated on extending security and stability throughout Europe, and on peacekeeping efforts in Europe and elsewhere. NATO air forces were used under UN auspices
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