Monday, December 29, 2014

Ukraine Fulfills National Destiny
As 2014 draws to a close, Ukraine has finally laid the political foundation for fulfilling its national destiny. It has expelled Russian saboteurs and minions, as well as domestic traitors and criminals, beginning with Viktor Yanukovych and his cabal. In recent elections Kyiv and the Ukrainian nation have charted a course to accede to the European Union, nullify its former detrimental nonaligned status and position itself for eventual membership in NATO. The Verkhovna Rada also adopted a budget for 2015.
At the same time, Russia has been busy solidifying its despotic policies of shackling opposition, waging a war against Ukraine to restore the Russian prison of nations, and adopting a hardened revised military doctrine that reaffirms NATO and all of its member-states are Russia’s No.1 enemy.
Vladimir Putin signed on December 26 revisions to the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation. Called “clarifications,” these amendments had been approved by the Security Council of the Russian Federation on December 19.
The current doctrine, which comes during the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014, reflects the Kremlin’s readiness to take a stronger, more aggressive posture in response to what it perceives as US-led efforts to isolate and weaken Russia. The doctrine mirrors the belligerent tone and warnings issued by Putin in his three-hour press conference on December 18. See my post of December 19.
The 29-page doctrine outlines Russian’s perceived top threats to its security and its possible responses, excluding nothing. It is the third edition of the Military Doctrine since Putin was first elected president in 2000. I discuss its warlike military and security doctrines in a post on November 15. None of the versions offers the United States or NATO an olive branch. All of them condemn the free world’s threats against the existence of Russia and its military and political advances against the former captive nations, which Russia still regards as its backyard. Washington and other national capitals should not belittle the implications of any version of Russia’s Military Doctrine while they prepare their own defense.
The doctrine places the blame for heightened global tensions and the war in Ukraine squarely on NATO and the USA. “A build-up of NATO military potential and its empowerment with global functions implemented is in violation of international law, as well as the expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to the Russian borders,” the doctrine said.
Demonstrating Russia’s historical paranoia of the non-Russian world, the doctrine stresses that the deployment of foreign military forces on the territory of Russia’s neighbors could be used for “political and military pressure.”
The doctrine’s greatest threat against mankind is its clarification of the use of nuclear weapons. Despite the predominant global belief that nuclear weapons should be banned, Russia did not consider it necessary to echo that conviction.
“Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons or any other types of weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies, as well as in the case of an attack with conventional weaponry that threatens the very existence of the state," the doctrine says.
As Putin stressed in his press conference, it is “us protecting our independence, our sovereignty and our right to exist. That is what we should all realize.”
Consequently, Russia announced that it will defend itself with any weapon against any attack by anyone.
A threat to Russia is also described as the “establishment of the regimes in the neighboring countries threatening the national security of Russia, including the regimes formed as a result of the illegitimate governments’ overthrow.”
Just as Putin elaborated, the Military Doctrine also alludes to the importance Russia places on an allied Ukraine, not a potential new member of NATO. The Kremlin leaders realize that the only way that Ukraine – and the other former captive nations – will remain a loyal buffer zone that protects Russia will be in a restored Russian prison of nations.
The doctrine reiterates Putin’s notion that Yanukovych was ousted in a US-inspired revolution and the current government of President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatseniuk are probable enemies.
The doctrine lists among major foreign military threats “the creation and deployment of global strategic antiballistic missile systems that undermine the established global stability and balance of power in nuclear missile capabilities, the implementation of the ‘prompt strike’ concept, intent to deploy weapons in space and deployment of strategic conventional precision weapons.”
Another new point in the doctrine is that one of the Russian military’s goals is to protect national interests in the Arctic region. Evidence of Russian militarization has also been visible around the world. Last Friday, Moscow successfully test-fired the RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk launchpad in northwestern Russia. Naval adventurism in open seas has also been recorded.
The direct and indirect threats of the doctrine were not lost on the former captive nations, which are already concerned for their own independence and sovereignty due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Karl Altau, managing director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee, said Putin’s move is more evidence that he continues on the road to entrench and isolate himself and his regime. “His threats against perceived enemies, particularly NATO, are surely meant to both cow the West and to ramp up chauvinism for an already propaganda-infused domestic audience in the Russian Federation,” he said.
Altau said Russia’s entrenchment is both worrisome and dangerous for Russia’s neighbors, such as the Baltic countries. “The Baltics, and all other Central and Eastern European countries, were absolutely correct in sensing that perhaps one day, a revanchist Moscow would be back [after the collapse of the Soviet Union].”
Carl Haglund, Minister of Defense of Finland, said in the Helsinki Times that despite references to nuclear retaliation, the doctrine reaffirms long-standing warnings to the free world not to threaten Russia. “This changes nothing in Finland, [but] it doesn’t mean that we aren’t awake. It has become obvious over the past 12 months that the approach of Russia has become more aggressive,” Haglund said.
With an aggressive, threatening neighbor that has already sent its soldiers and mercenaries into its territory, can Ukraine be blamed for nullifying its nonaligned status and hastening its dream of acceding to European geopolitical arrangements?
Signing the law on the abolition of the nonaligned status of Ukraine, Poroshenko said last week: "I think it was a strategic and fundamental mistake in 2010, when Ukraine acquired the non-aligned status. Having done that, Ukraine has destroyed its Armed Forces.”
Answering journalists’ questions on holding a referendum regarding Ukraine’s accession to NATO, Poroshenko credibly emphasized that Ukraine must first reform so it can comply with the criteria for joining the EU and NATO. “These standards are 99% the same. When Ukraine will meet these criteria, the people of Ukraine will decide on NATO membership. Probably, these criteria will be achieved within the implementation of the Strategy of Reforms – 2020 in the course of the coming five to six years,” Poroshenko noted.
NATO did not reject Ukraine’s vote and by implication its aspiration to become a member of the alliance at some time in the future. The alliance said it respects Ukraine’s decision to abandon its non-aligned status and confirms that Ukraine will be a member of the organization if it requests membership and complies with all alliance standards and principles, NATO headquarters said last week, according to UNIAN.
“We respect the decision of the Ukrainian parliament. Ukraine is an independent and sovereign state and it is the one who can make decisions on its own foreign policy,” the statement said. “As it was agreed at the summit in Bucharest in 2008, our doors are open, and Ukraine will become a member of NATO if it requests this and if it complies with [NATO] standards and adheres to its principles. If Ukraine decides to apply for membership of NATO, we will assess its readiness to join the alliance in the same way as we do with any other candidate.”
Russia was quick to denounce the Ukrainian vote. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a Facebook post last week, said the vote to drop Ukraine’s nonaligned status is tantamount to its application to join NATO and therefore makes Ukraine a potential enemy of Russia.
The comment was the strongest Russian reaction to date to Poroshenko’s decision to reverse Yanukovych’s 2010 choice to formally declare the country to be non-aligned.
“[The] Ukrainian president has submitted to the Verkhovna Rada a bill on dropping Ukraine’s non-aligned status,” wrote Medvedev. “Essentially, this is a bid to join NATO, which turns Ukraine into a potential enemy of Russia.”
Medvedev also reiterated Russia’s objections to the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, signed by President Obama, authorizing military aid to Ukraine and additional sanctions against Russia in response to its intervention in eastern Ukraine.
“Our relations with America will be poisoned for decades to come,” he wrote, equating the Ukraine Freedom Support Act with the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
The 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment linked trade ties with Russia to free emigration for Jews and other religious minorities. Obama signed the law repealing it two years ago and perhaps in hindsight that move was premature.
While Ukraine is endeavoring to rid itself of Russian influence and shackles in order to embark on a progressive and democratic course of national development, Russia is hardening its long-held belligerently imperialistic policy of threatening countries in its region as well as those that have stood on the barricades of defending freedom of the captive nations.
While Ukrainian leaders are realistic in assessing their country’s ability to apply for membership in NATO now or in the near future, that application cannot be denied by anyone. Some in the West and everyone in the Kremlin have said Ukraine should not be allowed to join NATO, arguing that it would destabilize global relations.

However, the question of Ukraine’s membership in NATO would be better addressed by looking at what would befall the international community if Russia fulfills it manifest destiny, re-subjugates Ukraine and the other former captive nations, and restores its empire. Would security and stability of the free world be enhanced then?