A potential rift over the future of the world's biggest military alliance could pose problems for the relationship between President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
NATO, the Western military alliance founded in Washington in 1949, has been key in pursuing a military defense system sited along Russia's western border.
Last week on Russian television, Putin was applauded when he said Russia could "choke" NATO if it continued to expand toward Russian territory.
Now Russia has said it plans to deploy air missile systems to the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad, a move described by the U.S. State Department as "destabilizing to European security."
Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute said despite Russian saber-rattling the new U.S. president won't withdraw far from the current position on NATO and European security.
"Trump will try again a reset with Russia, and remain, like Obama, reluctant to get involved with Ukraine. But I don't think NATO security guarantees will weaken, and Putin would be foolish to test this," Chalmers told CNBC via email.
However Tate Nurkin Senior Director of Aerospace, Defense & Security at IHS Markit believes any lack of commitment by the U.S. to the alliance will see Russia testing the water.
"If the U.S. under Trump is overly friendly to Russia or wavers in its commitment to the alliance in general and to its Eastern and Baltic allies then we should expect Russia to push and push very hard to test NATO's resolve," he said in an email to CNBC Tuesday.
Nurkin warned that Russia is well skilled at unsettling weaker neighbors as was recently witnessed in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.
"So, more bullying and coercive diplomacy, which creatively leverages Russian military strength, cyber warfare, creation of narratives to weaken target states and societies and mobilize Russian nationalist communities," Nurkin said.