Article by: Vitaly Portnikov
The NATO summit in South Wales showed what the policy of the Alliance will be in relation to Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Will NATO help Ukraine? Just a few weeks ago, the North Atlantic Alliance obviously did not want to get involved in the conflict, and the leaders, members of NATO, hoped that they would be able to appease Vladimir Putin with the help of sanctions. The last NATO summit demonstrated how close the alliance is to the military line – because the creation of “trust funds” that would help modernize Ukrainian Armed Forces – is not a political declaration anymore, but a preparation for the creation of an anti-Putin coalition modeled after the anti-Saddam or anti–Gaddafi coalition. This coalition does not necessarily have to involve all the countries – members of NATO, but the alliance does not prevent anyone from providing Ukraine with the necessary military assistance. And this is a real turning point.
Such a critical juncture did not even happen after the downing of the Malaysian “Boeing.” No one in the world had any doubts that the plane catastrophe was carried out with a weapon supplied to insurgents by their Kremlin supervisors, perhaps even seconded to the territory controlled by the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] by the Russian military. But at the same time, there was hope that this disaster would demonstrate to Vladimir Putin the sheer level of danger of a further escalation of the conflict and force him to find a peaceful solution to it.
The West started to form an anti-Putin coalition – similar to the anti-Saddam [coalition]. Participation of all of the NATO countries is optional, but the Alliance now has no objection [to such involvement], the degree of participation is determined by each country.
Western leaders have miscalculated again. Not only has Putin made no reasonable conclusions, but also he continued to develop plans for the further occupation of Ukrainian territory – this time with the help of the regular army, since the mercenary forces are clearly no longer enough. In this sense, the downed Malaysian Boeing did not become the turning point. Novoazovsk did, because after its capture, even the biggest of Russia’s well wishers will not be able to take Moscow’s tales of “militias” and the oppressed population of southeastern Ukraine seriously. And it became clear even to these well-wishers that it’s time to move from words to business. Serious business.
However, it would be incorrect to state that the West only limited itself to words. But the main calculation was for the cumulative effect of sanctions, which, sooner or later – although rather late – will lead to the collapse of Putin’s regime. Now the question is if there is [still] time to expect this cumulative effect and how much foreign territory will the Kremlin dictator occupy before his regime collapses. At the same time, there are understandable concerns about the rapid collapse of Russia. If the building of the Russian statehood, which lost its economic foundation, collapses as a result of harsh actions by the West right on the heads of the happy winners, then will they be able to dodge the debris? Or rather, not even that – will we all be able to dodge the debris?
And this is not a rhetorical question, because the weakness of the Russian economy allows for the question to be asked this way. So now the West’s strategy looks like this: we are all trying to stop Putin, moving the process from the military into the political channel, at the same time arming the Ukrainian army – so that it can give a fitting rebuff to the aggressor, and convinced of the inevitability of Putin’s transition of the situation again in the same political direction. And we continue to pressure [him] with sanctions, tightening them with every new inadequate move of the Russian president.
The strategy is good, of course. But there is catastrophically little time to implement it – and it [the strategy] does not prevent the death of Ukrainian citizens, who are forced to defend their land against a prevailing army superior in numbers, equipment, and in the indifference of [Russian] society to the deaths of fellow countrymen. That is why a victory over such an enemy will be a difficult victory, but its day will forever remain a holiday in the history [of Ukraine], with tears in [people’s] eyes.
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine