Thursday 6 July 2023

Prelude to my appearance on RT's CrossTalk (July 2023): My thoughts on a range of issues linked to the forthcoming NATO summit to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania

Q. What can we expect from the upcoming NATO summit?

We can expect more pledges of supplies of arms and ammunition to Ukraine, as well as plans to train Ukrainian military personnel. That is the import that must be given to the pledge that “the decisions (NATO members) will take in Vilnius will bring Ukraine closer to NATO.”

It is very unlikely that Ukraine will be admitted as a member because Turkey or Hungary would surely block such a move. Jens Stoltenberg has made it clear that Ukraine cannot join under the present circumstance of war and President Volodymyr Zelensky admitted this in June of this year 2023.

The so-called Membership Action Plan (MAP) which Ukraine would need to satisfy by fulfilling a range of political, economic, and military criteria is not capable of being met.

First, Ukraine cannot be considered to be a “functioning democracy.” Zelensky has cancelled elections, even though both Abraham Lincoln and Bashar al-Assad managed to hold elections during war conditions. Both former President Petro Poroshenko and President Zelensky have banned opposition parties and jailed journalists and political opponents. Zelensky is also persecuting the Orthodox Christian Church.

Secondly, Ukraine cannot be said to “treat its minorities fairly.” The policy of Ukrainianization in place since the US-sponsored coup of 2014 has effectively denied ethnic Russian Ukrainians the right to use their language at state and municipal level. Their children are denied the right to be taught in Russian. Ethnic Russian Ukrainians are denied the status as an indigenous people of Ukraine. Such attacks on the use of language and culture would lead to serious fractures in Western countries such as Canada and Belgium and this has happened in Ukraine.

Thirdly, Ukraine cannot commit itself to the “peaceful solution of conflicts” as evidenced by the bad faith regarding the Minsk accord. Zelensky, who came to power on a mandate to find peace, was prevented from implementing the Steinmeier Formula by far-right Ukrainian troops stationed in the Donbas. Also, the agreement reached between Russia and Ukraine to end the war in 2022 was sabotaged by NATO using former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the emissary who blocked the agreement.

Fourthly, while Ukraine has shown that it is “able and willing to contribute militarily to NATO operations” because it has been functioning as NATO’s proxy army in a war against the Russian Federation, it is clearly not able to join NATO when it is effectively bankrupt and totally reliant on external aid.

Q. In what way would Ukraine becoming a NATO member enhance European security?

The preamble to the conference agenda asks, “How will the Alliance continue to protect its one billion citizens and every inch of Allied territory?” If I were an invited guest or just an officious bystander, I would remark that the surest way of achieving that goal would be for the organisation to disband and for the European states to contrive a new security architecture on the continent involving its Eurasian neighbour Russia.

Specifically answering the question, one has to respond by saying that Ukraine becoming a NATO member would not enhance European security and in fact would grievously imperil it.

This is because Ukraine has effectively operated as a de facto NATO state since 2014. Its armed forces have been trained and equipped by NATO countries before and after the Russian intervention in the civil war. Being granted membership would serve as the ultimate “redline” given the warning of President Vladimir Putin to the administration of President George W. Bush about the admission of Ukraine and Georgia into the Atlantic alliance.

This was understood by people in the West including former ambassador now CIA head William J. Burns whose memo “Nyet Means Nyet” of February 2008  predicted that NATO membership would provoke a civil war between the Ukrainian and Russian-speaking people of the country, and that Russia, although reluctant, would be compelled to intervene.

As Ukraine would come under what is described as the “protective umbrella of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty”, it would amount to a formal declaration of war against the Russian Federation because Russia is viewed as the aggressor while Russia argues that it is effectively defending the rights of the people of the Donbas who have exercised their right to self-determination because of the war waged against them by the government in Kiev which along with the key NATO states of France and Germany negotiated the Minsk Agreements in bad faith.

Q. Are there any benefits for Europe surrendering its “security sovereignty” to Washington?

Absolutely not.

While the smaller states and less prosperous ones may obtain a certain amount of economic advantage, the overall effect has been to entrap European nations into a form of vassalage. Allowing Washington to meet their security needs has meant that they have been obliged to follow the policy dictates of the United States whose militarist foreign policy is formulated by a combination of neoconservative ideologues, American exceptionalists and the military industry.

This has meant that NATO members have given cover to the series of illegal military operations - both covert and overt - which the United States has embarked upon in the post-Cold War era.

Each intervention, namely those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, has led to successive waves of migrants trying to find a way into Europe via Asia minor or the Mediterranean Sea. The role played by NATO states in provoking the conflict in Ukraine has also led to a flood of refugees.

And as can be seen the sanction regime which European states have been obligated to impose on Russia has backfired spectacularly and has led not to the destruction of the Russian economy and the overthrow of President Vladimir Putin but to the degeneration of their economies, many of which are stagnant, in recession or as in the case of Germany have been set on a course of de-industrialisation.

This has made the European nations more dependent on Washington. They now have to pay more for energy whether it is liquefied gas from the US or Russian gas being re- sold to them by India.

All-in-all it has been a disadvantageous arrangement which breathes new life into Lord Ismay’s often referred to quote about the purpose of NATO being to “keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down.”

As for Ukraine, which post-Maidan has served as a client state of the United States, there has been no benefit at all. Just national destruction and dismemberment. As a writer for the Tablet wrote at the time of the Russian intervention “By tying itself to a reckless and dangerous America, the Ukrainians made a blunder that client states will study for years to come.”

Q. Agree or disagree: We should accept NATO and Russia will be enemies-adversaries for a long time to come.

Reluctantly agree.

This is because Russia has learned from bitter experience that the US-led NATO will not see Russia as anything but an enemy because it refuses to surrender its sovereignty. Russia has to be balkanised or be made pliant enough to be dictated to through the Western financial system and have its mineral reserves controlled by Western corporations.

They will remain adversaries because Russia cannot enter into any formal or informal agreement and trust in the good faith of NATO member states.

The reneging of the post-Cold War agreement that NATO not expand an inch eastwards and the admissions respectively of former Chancellor Angela Merkle and former President Francois Hollande that Minsk was merely to buy time while a Ukrainian army was built up is evidence of this as is the fact that Ukraine was prevented from entering into a peace agreement in 2022 when former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, acting as an emissary for NATO forbade such agreement.

Q. Agree or disagree: At this point, it is very unlikely we will see a negotiated end to the conflict in Ukraine.

Reluctantly agree.

A negotiated end is impractical given the aforementioned breaches of promise on the part of the West. Russia will have no choice but to end the conflict on its own terms. Russia has stated that it will not accept a “frozen conflict” like Korea or Syria.

The Polish government would block such moves as it appears to be composed of many members who appear heedless to the warning of the Polish nationalist Roman Dmowski who cautioned those of his countrymen who “hated Russia more than they loved Poland.”

A negotiated settlement is also not in the interests of those neoconservative ideologues like US Senator Lindsey Graham who feels Russians getting killed is the “best money we’ve ever spent.” Nor is it in the interests of the military industry and the middlemen in the corrupt Ukrainian state for whom this war represents a great transfer of US taxpayer wealth to their coffers.

It may be that Russia will hope for a change of regime in Kiev with leaders distinct from the post-Maidan era and free of control by the United States and NATO with whom Moscow can negotiate a treaty of neutrality along the lines of that of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2023).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England. He has an interest in Global Security issues.

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