Petro Poroshenko, The Wall Street Journal, 07.07.2016
NO MEMBER OF THE ALLIANCE HAS UKRAINE'S BATTLEFIELD EXPERIENCE WITH THE MODERN RUSSIAN ARMY
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created to defend the peace and global order that emerged out of the chaos of World War II. As world leaders gather in Warsaw for the NATO summit on Friday, it will be important to remember these origins. Appeasement is not a solution. Russia has been deliberately inciting instability wherever it can, hoping to divide the West and advance its own geopolitical agenda.
In the two years since the last NATO summit, Ukraine has witnessed firsthand this agenda unfold. We have suffered under the guns of Russian aggression in Crimea and Donbas.
In 2014, when the enemy came to Ukraine, our army was weak from years of neglect by the pro-Russian presidency of Viktor Yanukovych. Today we have a modern and tenable army, one that has destroyed Vladimir Putin’s dream of cutting Ukraine in half.
We have created a brand new Special Operations Force. Fifteen new brigades have been established. Military training and education has been modernized. Military strategic documents, developed in collaboration with NATO experts, have been adopted. To enhance our defense capabilities, our military participates in training exercises such as Anaconda 2016, Sea Breeze and Rapid Trident, alongside NATO forces.
NATO’s collective security could likewise benefit from Ukraine’s experience and intelligence. Russia’s aggression on the eastern flank of NATO territory is an aggression not only against Ukraine, but the Western world. Yet no NATO member state has actual battlefield experience engaging with the modern Russian army. Ukraine does.
We are grateful for the support the West has given us so far. NATO has held firm in its stance against Russia’s aggression in Crimea and Donbas, and continues to support the building of a strong army and a successful democratic state. Owing to the concerted economic pressure imposed through sanctions, Russia has been limited in its capacity to advance into Ukrainian territory.
Yet this reactive strategy, imposing sanctions after violations have taken place, has largely exhausted itself. In Donbas, the Kremlin has turned to a war of attrition. It persistently violates the terms of the cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk, not forcefully enough to trigger a serious response from the international community, but strong enough to maintain pressure on both Ukraine and the West.
So long as the Kremlin can continue to ignite minor conflagrations in certain areas such as the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, it will use them as leverage to bully other countries.
Only a deeper partnership between NATO and Ukraine will foster stability in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, the Black Sea region and the transatlantic area as a whole. NATO’s support is a necessary part of the solution for defense and security threats in Ukraine.
We will not settle for anything less than peace. But there is little value in talks with a negotiating partner who thinks in terms of geopolitical ambitions rather than saving human lives, and who shows no respect for legal commitments on his part. Pressure on the aggressor must be intensified until the Kremlin fulfills its obligations under the Minsk agreements, reverses the illegal and illegitimate self-declared annexation of Crimea, and comes back under the rule of law.
The unified efforts of NATO and its partner countries matter. Working together, we can guide the course of history toward peace, stability and security. Staying strong is the key.