Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 05.12.2018
Trying to undo a decade old mistake, NATO is making overtures to Ukraine and Georgia. After the Russian Federation’s act of war in the Black Sea against Ukraine on November 25 there is urgency to the high-level meetings going on now at NATO headquarters in Brussels and in capitals throughout the broader North Atlantic region.
In 2008, NATO member states balked at extending a Membership Action Plan to Ukraine and Georgia. The appeasement faction within the Western alliance believed that bringing Ukraine and Georgia into NATO would provoke the Russian Federation. This proved to be a disastrous misjudgement. Exploiting the weakness of the Euro-Atlantic community in defending its core values, the Putin regime invaded Georgia in 2008 and invaded Ukraine in 2014.
NATO was helpless when Putin’s invaders attacked Georgia in Tskhinvali Region and then proceeded to engage in a “creeping border” annexation of Georgian territory in the decade since. NATO was helpless when the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in Crimea, invaded Ukraine in Donbas, shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and attacked the Ukrainian Navy last week. By contrast, because Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became NATO member states in time they have their sovereignty and territorial integrity intact. NATO forward defence battlegroups are in the Baltic countries and in Poland to deter Russian aggression.
On December 4, ministerial level meetings were held at NATO headquarters in Brussels. There was a meeting of the North Atlantic Council with the participation of Ukraine and Georgia. A background briefing was presented on Ukraine-NATO relations, particularly co-operation initiatives that are underway and are being planned. Most urgent were talks about the Russian Federation’s aggressive actions in the Sea of Azov.
After the meeting at NATO headquarters, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin spoke to the media. He said that partner nations delivered an important message: Ukraine will be a member of NATO.
Also on December 4, the Standing Committee on National Defence of Canada’s House of Commons invited the ambassadors from Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova to give presentations. Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko, asked Canada to apply more sanctions in response to the Russian Federation’s attack on the Ukrainian Navy on November 25. He also urged Canada to extend its military training mission in Ukraine and to support Ukraine becoming a member of NATO.
Spokesperson for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Adam Austen, said in an email sent after the committee hearings that “Canada is committed to helping Ukraine realize its ambitions of becoming a member of NATO.”
Failing to admit Ukraine and Georgia to NATO has led to war. Exploiting weakness, Putin always attacks. The Russian Federation invades, partially occupies, and terrorizes non-NATO countries. It leaves NATO member states alone.
A quote attributed to Lenin goes like this: “You probe with bayonets: if you find mush, you push. If you find steel, you withdraw.” This is very much Putin’s mode of attack. It is why appeasement of Putin at war will never work. Failing to act out of fear of provoking Muscovy will in practice provoke Muscovy.
Admitting Ukraine and Georgia to NATO is the correct response to expanding Russian aggression. We had better go about it, with dispatch, before it is too late.