Voices from Russia

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin

00 galician UPA Democracy 01. 29.04.14

Here’s the main problem… the author NEVER mentions it…



A BIG Thank You to the Cabineteer who passed this on to me. It’s LONG, but I want you to read this.

This is DEEPLY flawed piece… it shows that the Anglos don’t understand the Ukrainian crisis at all and that they don’t understand its roots in history. Without a doubt, it shows that the West REFUSES to see what this war is truly all about… “Shall the Ukraine remain a part of the Russian World (for it is such now) or shall the West use the Galician Uniate fascist minority to rip it away from its ancient historical, cultural, and religious roots?” This is why the war is so bitter. The West congratulates itself too much… its interventions aren’t what causes this war to be MORE bitter than the Yugoslav Civil War was. The battle is between Holy Rus and the Unholy Unia… Rus stands for Orthodoxy, Tradition, and Culture, whereas the Unia stands for Papistry, Liberalism, and the Almighty Dollar. This professor is so divorced from reality that it renders his conclusions useless, but you must know what these people say… the zapadniki truly believe that their rot is true.

Despite its many shortcomings, you should read this. Bear in mind that it’s superficial and ignorant of most Russian history, religion, folkways, and culture, yet, it tells you what’s out there in the Anglo world. They are NOT our allies… not politically, not religiously, not culturally. If you forget that, you open yourself up to attack. Remember, their credo is “Winning is the only thing”… nothing that leads to victory is illicit for them. NEVER forget that.

By the way, “conservatives” and “liberals” in the Anglosphere are simply two sides of the same counterfeit Neoliberal coin… they share identical postulates and presuppositions. Both are Liberal to the bone… neither has any ties to Tradition, Culture, and Faith… that’s especially true of “conservatives”… the US Republican Party is the most rancid expression of Liberalism run amuck on the planet. The author doesn’t see how his Neoliberal assumptions knacker his conclusions. Yet, still read it… this is what they believe. It ain’t reality, but it’s what they believe. They got “credentials”, dontcha know…



00 what the hell are you doing. russia-ukraine. 2014


According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, one can blame the Ukrainian crisis almost entirely on Russian aggression. President V V Putin, the argument goes, annexed the Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of the Ukraine, as well as other countries in Eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President V F Yanukovich in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of the Ukraine.

However, this account is wrong… the USA and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The tap-root of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move the Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the “pro-democracy” movement in the Ukraine… beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004… were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they’ve made it clear that they wouldn’t stand by whilst their strategically important neighbour turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of the Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president… which he rightly labelled a “coup”… was the final straw. He responded by taking the Crimea, a peninsula that he feared would host a NATO naval base, and by working to destabilise the Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.

Putin’s pushback should’ve come as no surprise. After all, the West moved into Russia’s backyard and threatened its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Events blindsided American and European élites only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics. They tend to believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the 21st century and that liberal principles such as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy can keep Europe whole and free. However, this grand scheme went awry in the Ukraine. The crisis there shows that Realpolitik remains relevant… and states that ignore it do so at their own peril. American and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn the Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border. Now that the consequences of such are visible, it’d be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy.


01 Beat Back NATO!

Beat Back NATO!


The Western Affront

As the Cold War ended, Soviet leaders preferred that American forces remain in Europe and NATO stay intact, an arrangement they thought would keep a reunified Germany pacified. However, they and their Russian successors didn’t want NATO to grow any larger and assumed that Western diplomats understood their concerns. The Clinton administration evidently thought otherwise, and in the mid-1990s, it began pushing for NATO expansion.

The first round of enlargement took place in 1999 and brought in Czechia, Hungary, and Poland. The second occurred in 2004; it included Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Moscow complained bitterly from the start. During NATO’s 1995 bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs, for example, President B N Yeltsin said, “This is the first sign of what could happen when NATO comes up to the Russian Federation’s borders. … The flame of war could burst out across the whole of Europe”. However, the Russians were too weak at the time to derail NATO’s eastward movement… which, at any rate, didn’t look so threatening, since none of the new members shared a border with Russia, save for the tiny Baltic countries.

Then, NATO began looking further east. At its April 2008 summit in Bucharest, the alliance considered admitting Georgia and Ukraine. The Bush II administration supported doing so, but France and Germany opposed the move for fear that it’d unduly antagonise Russia. In the end, NATO’s members reached a compromise… the alliance didn’t begin the formal process leading to membership, but it issued a statement endorsing the aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine and boldly declaring, “These countries will become members of NATO”. Moscow, however, didn’t see the outcome as much of a compromise. Aleksandr Grushko, then Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said, “Georgia’s and Ukraine’s membership in the alliance is a huge strategic mistake which would have most serious consequences for pan-European security”. Putin maintained that admitting those two countries to NATO would represent a “direct threat” to Russia. One Russian newspaper reported that Putin, whilst speaking with Bush, “very transparently hinted that if NATO accepted the Ukraine, it’d cease to exist”.

Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008 should’ve dispelled any remaining doubts about Putin’s determination to prevent Georgia and the Ukraine from joining NATO. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who was deeply committed to bringing his country into NATO, decided in the summer of 2008 to reincorporate two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, Putin sought to keep Georgia weak and divided… and out of NATO. After fighting broke out between the Georgian government and South Ossetian separatists, Russian forces took control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow made its point. Yet, despite this clear warning, NATO never publicly abandoned its goal of bringing Georgia and the Ukraine into the alliance. NATO expansion continued marching forward, with Albania and Croatia becoming members in 2009.

The EU, too, marched eastward. In May 2008, it unveiled its Eastern Partnership initiative, a programme to foster prosperity in such countries as the Ukraine and integrate them into the EU economy. Not surprisingly, Russian leaders view the plan as hostile to their country’s interests. This past February, before Yanukovich’s toppling, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the EU of trying to create a “sphere of influence” in Eastern Europe. In the eyes of Russian leaders, EU expansion is a stalking horse for NATO expansion.

The West’s final tool for peeling Kiev away from Moscow was its efforts to spread Western values and promote democracy in the Ukraine and other post-Soviet states, a plan that often entails funding pro-Western individuals and organisations. Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, estimated in December 2013 that the United States had invested more than 5 billion USD (189 billion Roubles. 30.7 billion Renminbi. 304 billion INR. 5.6 billion CAD. 5.5 billion AUD. 3.9 billion Euros. 3.1 billion UK Pounds) since 1991 to help the Ukraine achieve “the future it deserves”. As part of that effort, the US government bankrolled the National Endowment for Democracy. The nonprofit foundation funded more than 60 projects aimed at promoting civil society in Ukraine, and the NED’s president, Carl Gershman, has called that country “the biggest prize”. After Yanukovich won the Ukrainian presidential election in February 2010, the NED decided that he was undermining its goals, so it stepped up its efforts to support the opposition and strengthen the country’s democratic institutions (sic).

When Russian leaders look at Western social engineering in Ukraine, they worry that their country might be next. Such fears are hardly groundless. In September 2013, Gershman wrote in The Washington Post, “The Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself”.


00 Crimean referendum 03. 16.03.14


Creating a Crisis

The West’s triple package of policies… NATO enlargement, EU expansion, and “democracy promotion”… added fuel to a fire waiting to ignite. The spark came in November 2013, when Yanukovich rejected a major economic deal he’d negotiated with the EU and decided to accept a 15 billion USD (567 billion Roubles. 92.1 billion Renminbi. 912 billion INR. 16.8 billion CAD. 16.5 billion AUD. 11.7 billion Euros. 9.3 billion UK Pounds) Russian counteroffer instead. That decision gave rise to anti-government demonstrations that escalated over the following three months and that by mid-February led to the deaths of some 100 protesters. Western emissaries hurriedly flew to Kiev to resolve the crisis. On 21 February, the government and the opposition struck a deal that allowed Yanukovich to stay in power until there were new elections. However, it immediately fell apart, and Yanukovich fled to Russia the next day. The new government in Kiev was pro-Western and anti-Russian to the core, and it contained four high-ranking members who one could legitimately label neofascists. Although the full extent of American involvement hasn’t yet emerged, it is clear that Washington backed the coup. Nuland and Republican Senator John McCain participated in anti-government demonstrations, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to the Ukraine, proclaimed after Yanukovich’s toppling that it was “a day for the history books”. As a leaked telephone recording revealed, Nuland advocated regime change and wanted Ukrainian politician Arseny Yatsenyuk to become Prime Minister in the new government, which he did. No wonder Russians of all persuasions think that the West played a role in Yanukovich’s ouster.

For Putin, the time to act against the Ukraine and the West had arrived. Shortly after 22 February, he ordered Russian forces to take the Crimea from the Ukraine, and soon after that, he incorporated it into Russia {this is an outright lie… the Anglos can’t see that their own hubris and mistakes caused this, not any order from VVP: BMD}. The task proved relatively easy, thanks to the thousands of Russian troops already stationed at the naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. The Crimea also made for an easy target since ethnic Russians compose roughly 60 percent of its population. Most of them wanted out of the Ukraine. Next, Putin put massive pressure on the new government in Kiev to discourage it from siding with the West against Moscow, making it clear that he’d wreck Ukraine as a functioning state before he would allow it to become a Western stronghold on Russia’s doorstep {again, the Anglo lies… remember their credo is “Winning is the only thing”… truth means nothing to them: BMD}. Toward that end, he provided advisers, arms, and diplomatic support to the Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine, who are pushing the country toward civil war {where’s your evidence, Anglo?: BMD}. He deployed a large army on the Ukrainian border (sic), threatening to invade if the government cracks down on the rebels. He sharply raised the price of the natural gas Russia sells to the Ukraine and demanded payment for past exports. Putin is playing hardball {no… VVP simply raised the gas price to market rates… something that the neoliberal pigs in the West demand in other things… why is it right for the West to do it and not Russia?: BMD}.


00 Crisis. 01 Odessa. We're not giraffe meat for the EU! .3

Odessa patriots: “We won’t be giraffe meat for the EU!”


The Diagnosis

Putin’s actions should be easy to comprehend. A huge expanse of flat land that Napoleonic France, Imperial Germany, and Nazi Germany all crossed to strike at Russia itself, the Ukraine serves as a buffer state of enormous strategic importance to Russia. Until recently, no Russian leader would tolerate a military alliance that was Moscow’s mortal enemy moving into Ukraine, nor would any Russian leader stand idly by whilst the West helped install a government there determined to integrate the Ukraine into the West. Washington may not like Moscow’s position, but it should understand the logic behind it. This is Geopolitics 101… great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory. After all, the USA doesn’t tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, much less on its borders. Imagine the outrage in Washington if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico in it. Logic aside, on many occasions, Russian leaders told their Western counterparts that they consider NATO expansion into Georgia and the Ukraine unacceptable, along with any effort to turn those countries against Russia… a message that the 2008 Russian-Georgian war also made crystal clear {a war started by Georgia!: BMD}.

Officials from the USA and its European allies contend that they tried hard to assuage Russian fears and that Moscow should understand that NATO has no designs on Russia. In addition to continually denying that its expansion aimed at containing Russia, the alliance never permanently deployed military forces in its new member states. In 2002, it even created a body called the NATO-Russia Council to foster coöperation. To mollify Russia further, the USA announced in 2009 that it’d deploy its new missile defence system on warships in European waters, at least initially, and not on Czech or Polish territory. However, none of these measures worked; the Russians remained steadfastly opposed to NATO enlargement, especially into Georgia and the Ukraine {of course they didn’t work… they were Vince Lombardi-esque lies… “Winning is the only thing”: BMD}. It’s the Russians, not the West, who ultimately get to decide what counts as a threat to them.

To understand why the West, especially the USA, failed to understand that its Ukrainian policy was laying the groundwork for a major clash with Russia, one must go back to the mid-1990s, when the Clinton administration began advocating NATO expansion. Pundits advanced a variety of arguments for and against enlargement, but there was no consensus on what to do. Most eastern European émigrés in the United States and their relatives, for example, strongly supported expansion, because they wanted NATO to protect such countries as Hungary and Poland. A few realists also favoured the policy because they thought that we still needed to contain Russia. However, most realists opposed expansion, in the belief that we didn’t need in fact to contain a declining great power with an aging population and a one-dimensional economy {the author should watch out… Russian demographics are improving, whilst the USA only sustains population growth via immigration: BMD}. They feared that enlargement would only give Moscow an incentive to cause trouble in Eastern Europe. American diplomat George Kennan articulated this perspective in a 1998 interview, shortly after the US Senate approved the first round of NATO expansion, “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it’ll affect their policies. I think it’s a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anyone else”.

Most liberals, on the other hand, favoured enlargement, including many key members of the Clinton administration. They believed that the end of the Cold War had fundamentally transformed international politics and that a new post-national order replaced the realist logic that used to govern Europe. The USA wasn’t only the “indispensable nation”, as US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it; it was also a benign hegemon and thus Moscow would be unlikely to view it as a threat. In essence, the aim was to make the entire continent look like Western Europe. Therefore, the USA and its allies sought to promote democracy in Eastern Europe, increase economic interdependence among them, and embed them in international institutions. Having won the debate in the USA, liberals had little difficulty convincing their European allies to support NATO enlargement. After all, given the EU’s achievements, the idea that geopolitics no longer mattered and that an all-inclusive liberal order could maintain peace in Europe was even more attractive to Europeans than it was to Americans.

So thoroughly did liberals come to dominate the discourse about European security during the first decade of this century that even as the alliance adopted an open-door policy of growth, NATO expansion faced little realist opposition. The liberal worldview is now accepted dogma among American officials. In March, for example, US President Barack Obama delivered a speech about the Ukraine in which he talked repeatedly about “the ideals” that motivate Western policy and how those ideals “have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power”. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s response to the Crimea crisis reflected this same perspective, “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretexts {that sounds like Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, and the attempts in Syria last year… gee, Madam, your slip IS showing!: BMD}”. In essence, the two sides have operated with different playbooks… Putin and his compatriots think and act according to realist dictates, whereas their Western counterparts adhere to liberal ideas about international politics. The result is that the USA and its allies unknowingly provoked a major crisis over the Ukraine.


Barbara-Marie Drezhlo. NO! To NATO Aggression! 2012


Blame Game

In that same 1998 interview, Kennan predicted that NATO expansion would provoke a crisis, after which the proponents of expansion would “say that we always told you that is how the Russians are”. As if on cue, most Western officials have portrayed Putin as the real culprit in the Ukraine predicament. In March, according to the New York Times, German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel implied that Putin was irrational, telling Obama that he was “in another world”. Although Putin no doubt has autocratic tendencies, no evidence supports the charge that he’s mentally unbalanced. On the contrary, he’s a first-class strategist; anyone who challenges him on foreign policy should fear and respect him. More plausibly, other analysts allege that Putin regrets the USSR’s demise and is determined to reverse it by expanding Russia’s borders. According to this interpretation, Putin, having taken the Crimea, is now testing the waters to see if the time is right to conquer the Ukraine, or at least its eastern part, and he’ll eventually behave aggressively toward other countries in Russia’s neighbourhood. For some in this camp, Putin represents a modern-day Adolf Hitler, and striking any kind of deal with him would repeat the mistake of Munich. Thus, NATO must admit Georgia and the Ukraine to contain Russia before it dominates its neighbours and threatens Western Europe.

This argument falls apart on close inspection. If Putin were committed to creating a Greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before 22 February. However, there’s virtually no evidence that he intended to take the Crimea, much less any other territory in the Ukraine, before that date. Even Western leaders who support NATO expansion don’t do so out of a fear that Russia was about to use military force. Putin’s actions in Crimea took them by complete surprise; they seem to have been a spontaneous reaction to Yanukovich’s ouster. Right afterward, even Putin said that he opposed Crimean secession, before quickly changing his mind. Besides, even if it wanted to, Russia lacks the capability to easily conquer and annex the eastern Ukraine, much less the entire country. Roughly, 15 million people… a third of the Ukrainian population… live between the Dnepr, which bisects the country, and the Russian border. An overwhelming majority of those people want to remain in the Ukraine and would surely resist a Russian occupation (sic) {according to whom and on what evidence, Anglo?: BMD}. Furthermore, Russia’s mediocre army, which shows few signs of turning into a modern Wehrmacht, would have little chance of pacifying all the Ukraine {this “mediocre” army beat the Poles, Swedes, and Napoleon… and it beat the Wehrmacht, too! This guy is a blithering idiot: BMD}. Moscow is in poor shape to pay for a costly occupation; its weak economy would suffer even more in the face of the resulting sanctions. However, even if Russia did boast a powerful military machine and an impressive economy, it’d still probably prove unable to occupy the Ukraine successfully. One need only consider the Soviet and American experiences in Afghanistan, the American experiences in Vietnam and Iraq, and the Russian experience in Chechnya to recall that military occupations usually end badly {Russia in the Ukraine ISN’T a foreign occupation… ponder that: BMD}. Putin surely understands that trying to subdue the Ukraine would be like swallowing a porcupine. His response to events there has been defensive, not offensive {the last four sentences are pure BS… it sounds like beer-talk at Suzy-Q in Kerhonkson, not intellectual writing: BMD}.


00 russia 08. Mikhail Khmelko. The Unity of the Russian People. 1951

Here’s the REAL “way out”… Neoliberal Western pigs out! Holy Rus is OURS… “All those who march on Holy Rus shall be put to death”… don’t the Western cretins understand that?


A Way Out

Given that most Western leaders continue to deny that legitimate security concerns might motivate Putin’s behaviour, it’s unsurprising that they tried to modify it by doubling down on their existing policies and punished Russia to deter further aggression. Although Kerry maintained, “All options are on the table”, neither the USA nor its NATO allies are prepared to use force to defend the Ukraine. Instead, the West relies on economic sanctions to coerce Russia into ending its support for the insurrection (sic) in the eastern Ukraine. In July, the USA and the EU put in place their third round of limited sanctions, targeting mainly high-level individuals closely tied to the Russian government and some high-profile banks, energy companies, and defence firms. They also threatened to unleash another tougher round of sanctions, aimed at whole sectors of the Russian economy. Such measures will have little effect. Harsh sanctions are likely off the table anyway; Western European countries, especially Germany, resisted imposing them for fear that Russia might retaliate and cause serious economic damage within the EU. However, even if the USA could convince its allies to enact tough measures, Putin would probably not alter his decision-making. History shows that countries will absorb enormous amounts of punishment to protect their core strategic interests. There’s no reason to think that Russia represents an exception to this rule.

Western leaders also clung to provocative policies that precipitated the crisis in the first place. In April, US Vice President Joseph Biden met with Ukrainian legislators and told them, “This is a second opportunity to make good on the original promise made by the Orange Revolution”. John Brennan, the director of the CIA, didn’t help things when, that same month, he visited Kiev on a trip that the White House said aimed at improving security coöperation with the Ukrainian government. Meanwhile, the EU continued to push its Eastern Partnership. In March, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, summarised EU thinking on the Ukraine, saying, “We have a debt, a duty of solidarity with that country, and we’ll work to have them as close as possible to us”. Sure enough, on 27 June, the EU and the Ukraine signed the economic agreement that Yanukovich fatefully rejected seven months earlier. Also in June, at a meeting of NATO members’ foreign ministers, they agreed that the alliance would remain open to new members, although the ministers refrained from mentioning the Ukraine by name. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced, “No third country has a veto over NATO enlargement”. The foreign ministers also agreed to support various measures to improve the Ukraine’s military capabilities in such areas as command and control, logistics, and cyberdefence. Naturally, Russian leaders recoiled at these actions; the West’s response to the crisis will only make a bad situation worse.

However, there’s a solution to the crisis in Ukraine… although it’d require the West to think about the country in a fundamentally new way. The USA and its allies should abandon their plan to westernise the Ukraine and instead aim to make it a neutral buffer between NATO and Russia, akin to Austria’s position during the Cold War. Western leaders should acknowledge that the Ukraine matters so much to [Russia] that it can’t support an anti-Russian régime there. This wouldn’t mean that a future Ukrainian government would have to be pro-Russian or anti-NATO. On the contrary, the goal should be a sovereign Ukraine that’s in neither the Russian nor the Western camp. To achieve this end, the USA and its allies should publicly rule out NATO’s expansion into both Georgia and the Ukraine. The West should also help fashion an economic rescue plan for the Ukraine funded jointly by the EU, the IMF, Russia, and the USA… a proposal that Moscow should welcome, given its interest in having a prosperous and stable Ukraine on its western flank. The West should considerably limit its social-engineering efforts inside the Ukraine. It’s time to put an end to Western support for another Orange Revolution. Nevertheless, American and European leaders should encourage the Ukraine to respect minority rights, especially the language rights of its Russian speakers.

Some argue that changing policy towards the Ukraine at this late date would seriously damage American credibility around the world. Undoubtedly, there’d be certain costs, but the costs of continuing a misguided strategy would be much greater. Furthermore, other countries are likely to respect a state that learns from its mistakes and ultimately devises a policy that deals effectively with the problem at hand. That option is clearly open to the USA. One also hears the claim that the Ukraine has the right to determine whom it wants to ally with and the Russians have no right to prevent Kiev from joining the West. This is a dangerous way for the Ukraine to think about its foreign policy choices. The sad truth is that might often makes right when great-power politics are at play. Abstract rights such as self-determination are largely meaningless when powerful states get into brawls with weaker states. Did Cuba have the right to form a military alliance with the USSR during the Cold War? The USA certainly didn’t think so, and the Russians think the same way about the Ukraine joining the West. It is in the Ukraine’s interest to understand these facts of life and tread carefully when dealing with its more powerful neighbour.

However, even if one rejects this analysis, and believes that the Ukraine has the right to petition to join the EU and NATO, the fact remains that the USA and its European allies have the right to reject these requests. There’s no reason that the West has to accommodate the Ukraine if it wants to pursue a wrong-headed foreign policy, especially if its defence isn’t a vital interest. Indulging the dreams of some Ukrainians is not worth the animosity and strife it’d cause, especially for the Ukrainian people. Of course, some analysts might concede that NATO handled relations with the Ukraine poorly and still maintain that Russia is an enemy that’d only grow more formidable over time… therefore, the West has no choice but to continue its present policy. Nevertheless, this viewpoint is badly mistaken. Russia is a declining power, and it will only get weaker with time {according to whom and using what standards, Anglo?: BMD}. Moreover, even if Russia were a rising power, it’d still make no sense to incorporate the Ukraine into NATO. The reason is simple… the USA and its European allies don’t consider the Ukraine to be a core strategic interest, as their unwillingness to use military force to come to its aid proved. Therefore, it’d be the height of folly to create a new NATO member that the other members have no intention of defending. NATO expanded in the past because liberals assumed the alliance would never have to honour its new security guarantees, but Russia’s recent power play shows that granting the Ukraine NATO membership could put Russia and the West on a collision course.

Sticking with the current policy would also complicate Western relations with Moscow on other issues. The USA needs Russia’s assistance to withdraw American equipment from Afghanistan through Russian territory, reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, and stabilise the situation in Syria. In fact, Moscow helped Washington on all three of these issues in the past; in the summer of 2013, Putin pulled Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire by forging a deal under which Syria agreed to relinquish its chemical weapons, thereby avoiding the American military strike that Obama had threatened. Someday, the USA will also need Russia’s help containing a rising China. However, current American policy is only driving Moscow and Beijing closer together. Now, the USA and its European allies face a choice on the Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which’d exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate the Ukraine in the process… a scenario where everyone would come out a loser. On the other hand, they could switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that doesn’t threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win.

September/October 2014

John J Mearsheimer

Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago (Chicago IL USA)

Foreign Affairs



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