It happened 15 years ago in Bucharest. NATO’s most significant and powerful member, the United States, was prepared to offer Ukraine and Georgia a NATO Membership Action Plan, only to be stymied in its efforts by two militarily insignificant and historically Russia-appeasing members France and Germany. Instead, Ukraine and Georgia were accorded a meaningless NATO assurance that the two countries would one day become NATO members.
The dishonest broker in this was the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, who with her ties to East Germany and KGB agent Vladimir Putin from Dresden, proceeded to pursue this disingenuous role for more than the ensuing decade. Merkel served as German chancellor for 16 years. Her membership in the Communist Free German Youth, her choice of studying Russian so that she could move up in East German society, her meeting and wedding her first husband in the USSR, and her reluctance to join the East German dissident movement: all these biographical details certainly merit some attention in explaining her longtime affinity with the criminal Putin and her obstruction of Ukraine’s accession to NATO membership.
Russia was emboldened. One month later Russia attacked Georgia and invaded its territory, which resulted in a frozen conflict in Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia that continues to this day. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree that declared the two regions independent states. Simultaneously, Russia targeted its efforts on Ukraine, through energy and other mechanisms fomenting discord between Ukraine’s political leaders which resulted in a fraudulent election and a victory for Russia’s surrogate Viktor Yanukovych. The West appeased once again with an endorsement of the Russian puppet by the Financial Times and a recognition that the election was free and fair by Western governmental election monitors.
Yanukovych proceeded to extend Russian control of the Crimean port of Sevastopol for an additional 25 years and depleted the Ukrainian military to less than 10,000 able bodies. By the time the people of Ukraine were able to oust the Russian surrogate in February 2014, Ukraine was ripe for a Russian invasion. And so Russia took Crimea, annexed it with a Russia-style fake referendum, and then invaded Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Ukraine began to rebuild its military, but NATO insisted on simply reiterating its tired old refrain about Ukraine’s future NATO membership. Russia was emboldened further, and so on Feb. 24, 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine with full force, targeting not merely the eastern regions but the capital, Kyiv itself.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has opined often that the ongoing war in Ukraine today is the fault of the West. In fact, it is the result of the disingenuity and, perhaps more of leaders like Chancellor Merkel, the fecklessness of Presidents Obama and Macron, the political ignorance at best and perhaps, the sedition of President Donald Trump and his MAGA and GOP cohort.
Another NATO Summit is about to take place in Vilnius from July 11-12. There are two ways of ending the war in Ukraine. One way is through a total Ukrainian victory, which requires not only a return to the January 2014 borders but the dissolution of the neighboring evil empire through decolonization to preclude imminent and future aggression. This option would take much time and cost many lives. The second and more viable solution is for the Vilnius Summit to accept Ukraine as a NATO member expeditiously – not unlike Finland.
Some have argued that Ukraine may not be accepted while the war is in progress. There is no such prohibition in the NATO Charter. Others have pointed to the fact that Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban has announced his opposition to Ukraine’s NATO accession. Orban should be reprimanded privately that while the NATO Charter does not include an expulsion provision, a case can be made for expulsion if a member fails to carry out its duties. There is no prohibition of expulsion. Orban has previously announced that Hungary will not arm Ukraine and, egregiously, that it will not permit the transit of lethal arms to Ukraine over its territory. Ukraine is by far the strongest potential NATO member in Europe. Hungary is one of NATO’s meaningless accoutrements. Even an unhinged Orban has to understand this reality.
Now is the time for NATO to stand up to Russian aggression meaningfully – with determination not appeasement. The result will be a further weakening of the Russian rat currently cowering in a very tight corner of the Kremlin.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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