Sunday, August 17, 2014
NATO Could Certainly Help Ukraine vs. Russia
Despite Viktor Yanukovych’s best efforts to undermine and disable the Armed Forces of Ukraine, after nearly eight months of intense combat with Russian mercenaries, commanders and tanks, missiles and other heavy combat equipment, Ukrainian soldiers are beginning to record battlefield victories against their vicious enemy.
Ukraine’s regular Armed Forces, the National Guard and volunteer paramilitary battalions are liberating town after town in their campaign to push the Russian invaders back to Russia. The war has reached a critical point for Russia not only because of the political alienation it is enduring because the war with Ukraine but also because its key commanders are leaving the trenches.
Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of the war with Russia, or as Churchill opined the end of the beginning of what is being called Russia’s inevitable war with Ukraine, but the fighting will not stop in the foreseeable future. While Germany last week naively called for a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine, Berlin and the world must understand that the crisis in Ukraine is not based in politics. Russia has invaded Ukraine in order to defeat and re-subjugate it. Moscow could no longer tolerate an independent Ukraine on its border that ousted its hand-picked governor in the person of Yanukovych and is fulfilling its goal of joining the European Union and in time NATO.
In order for Ukraine to realize its mission, the United States, the EU and NATO must stand up and support Kyiv and President Poroshenko politically, economically and militarily.
A couple of days ago Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin was quoted as appealing to NATO and the European Union to provide military support for Ukrainian troops fighting pro-Russian separatists and said the Western military alliance needed to come up with a new strategy toward Kyiv.
Klimkin told German radio station Deutschlandfunk that the EU and NATO needed to consider what they could and would do if rules get broken, adding that this was the case when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March and was also true of Russia’s actions in Donetsk and Luhansk now.
“It’s a really tough question for the European Union and NATO: What can they do if a war is practically ... being mongered in Europe by a European country?” he said according to a transcript of the interview. “And that’s why, if they say “We can't do much there,” it gives rise to the question: How can you then continue to be seen as a responsible partner?”
Asked if he was appealing to the EU and NATO for military aid, Klimkin emphatically confirmed: “Yes of course. We need military aid because if we got such aid, it would be easier for our troops on the ground to act.”
He said Ukraine is facing a tough situation economically and financially so it needs help now but would later repay this aid. Alongside direct aid, the country also needed the EU to help it implement reforms, Klimkin said.
Indeed, will NATO’s new European allies, the former captive nations, regard the alliance as a serious partner? How will NATO reassure them that it will protect their interests after it failed to save Ukraine?
Fortunately, NATO’s commanders understand the cost of losing Ukraine. The alliance’s top commander said in an interview published on Sunday that if Russia tries to infiltrate troops into a NATO country, even out of official military uniform as it did before it annexed Ukraine's Crimea, NATO will respond militarily.
US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and a commander who understands the threat Ukrainian is facing, said although NATO had no plans to intervene in non-NATO member Ukraine, NATO countries in eastern Europe needed to start preparing for a possible threat from “little green men” - referring to the Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms who stormed Crimea.
“The most important work to prepare a nation for the problem of ‘little green men,’ or organizing of Russian (speaking) population, it happens first. It happens now,” Breedlove said in an interview published online by German newspaper Die Welt.
“How do we now train, organize, equip the police forces and the military forces of (allied) nations to be able to deal with this?” he asked, according to a transcript of his remarks in English provided by NATO.
“If we see these actions taking place in a NATO nation and we are able to attribute them to an aggressor nation, that is Article 5. Now, it is a military response.”
While Ukraine isn’t a formal NATO member, it should be regarded as a kindred spirit.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also seems to understand the situation. On Friday he accused Russia of an “incursion” into Ukrainian territory.
“Last night we saw a Russian incursion, a crossing of the Ukrainian border,” he told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to Reuters.
However, we are baffled by his cautious use of the word incursion. Why not assert that Russia has invaded Ukraine and continues to pour soldiers and heavy equipment into its eastern region.
“It just confirms the fact that we see a continuous flow of weapons and fighters from Russia into eastern Ukraine and it is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine,” Rasmussen said.
In fact, why are all allies of Ukraine not raising the alarm of invasion when none of them are denying that foreign troops are battling in Ukraine? Why is NATO toying with phrases such as there is a “high probability” that Russia could launch an invasion of Ukraine?
NATO’s military intelligence agents did not serve its commanders well in the past six decades, or at least since the collapse of the USSR because Russia’s war against Ukraine has apparently driven the alliance to re-analyze its original mission: how to protect its old and new members against a very real Russian threat. NATO is being caught without a plan or afraid of carrying out its mission. It will hesitate while someone else’s soldiers die in a war far away.
Stalling will only bring the war closer to Europe’s capitals and America’s shores. Will the free world be able to explain why Ukraine was lost on its watch?