Ukraine needs dependable allies, not empty words to guarantee its sovereignty. Faced with the Russian usurpation of the Crimea and protests throughout the Ukraine, Russian President Putin may soon invade. Doing so would continue his goal of recreating the old borders of the Soviet Union.
President Putin has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will go out of his way to achieve Russian expansion. Like other totalitarians before him, President Putin is, at heart, a bully. Words only embolden a bully. Standing up to President Putin with actions other than words will make him back down.
Ukraine needs dependable allies ready to guarantee its sovereignty with something beyond empty words. How can President Putin be shown that he faces something more meaningful than words? Begin by granting Ukraine immediate NATO membership.
In 1994, the Ukraine signed a treaty with Russia, the U.S., and U.K. that gave away all of its nuclear weapons in exchange for having its borders respected by the signatories. Russia has violated that agreement by invading the Crimea and instituting protests across the Ukraine. Since the Russians no longer respect treaties, the Ukrainians deserve immediate NATO status.
From April 1949 to November 1989, NATO has kept Western Europe safe from a Soviet invasion. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain to the present day, East European countries that were once part of the Warsaw Pact have joined NATO. Adding Ukraine to NATO gives President Putin a clear choice, back down or face war.
Ukraine requires immediate boots on the ground. Every NATO country must send troops as a show of solidarity. For any member citing bad economic conditions or requesting more time to consider sending troops, their governments need to be reminded of the freedom enjoyed by Europeans since 1949.
Further reminders of Hitler taking the Rhineland, Austria, Sudetenland, and Czechoslovakia should also be cited. A quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller about standing up for the rights of others would certainly support the argument of standing together with Ukraine.
Instead of restricting the travel of minor Russian officials to the West or removing Russia from the G8, let them experience something far worse. Cut off all Russian trade and economic support until President Putin withdraws his backing of pro-Russian secessionist groups and returns the Crimea. The embargo would stay in place six months as proof that Russians respects the treaties it signs.
Europeans can get natural gas from the United States and other free societies. With winter giving way to spring, now would be the best time to begin stockpiling.
Words are ineffective with President Putin. Telling him that Russia cannot use 19 th Century diplomacy in the 21 st Century is ineffective. Recent Russian diplomacy has proven otherwise. Stating that if Russia continues with its aggressive foreign policy it would not only be a grave mistake, but an expensive one means nothing to President Putin. To him, he only hears words and does not see action.
When Russian troops invaded the Crimea, what did the West do? They responded with words and minor sanctions. Russia has now instituted unrest across Ukraine and threatens to invade. What will the West do other than issue condemnations and a few more restrictions?
Standing up to aggression works. When Stalin blockaded West Berlin in 1948, President Truman responded with the Berlin Air Lift. When North Koreans invaded South Korea in 1950, President Truman responded by sending troops to the peninsula. In 1962, when Chairman Khrushchev established nuclear missiles in Cuba, President Kennedy stood ready for war. The Soviets backed down. During the 1980s, President Reagan geared up the U.S. military by ordering Pershing Missiles to Europe and established the Strategic Defense Initiative. President Reagan’s actions helped bring about the demise of the Soviet Union.
Russians comprehend action. Let President Putin understand the goal of backing the Ukraine is not the collapse of Russia, but the preservation of an independent country. The overall goal for Russia should join the EU bringing it closer to Europe. Once Russians learn to respect the rights of their neighbors, let them be welcomed into the EU and NATO.
Ukrainian autonomy in the face of Russian aggression cannot be maintained with words and weak sanctions. The Russians must be made to understand that the Ukraine has determined allies in the West ready to protect its sovereignty with something more meaningful than words.
Opinion By Brian T. Yates