Staunton, November 18 – Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, says that Russian wants to receive “a 100 percent guarantee” that “no one will think about Ukraine entering NATO.” The only proper response to that outrageous example of imperial overreach is to offer NATO full membership in the alliance immediately.
To do otherwise at this point is to recognize a Russian sphere of influence, to undercut the ability of other countries which live around Russia’s periphery to make their own choices, and to put ever more of them at risk of becoming victims of Russian aggression. Still worse, it is to betray the brave people of Ukraine and the principles the West has long proclaimed.
Peshkov told the BBC World Service that up to now, no one has given such guarantees – a remarkably explicit indication of just how much Moscow has been lying about what supposedly happened in the early 1990s – and made it clear that Moscow’s goals are far greater than just Ukraine.
“We want to hear that NATO will stop moving toward Russia’s borders, that NATO will stop its efforts at violating the balance of forces. But unfortunately, we have not heard that,” Peskov said.
Tragically, many in the West earlier accepted the notion that Russia should have a say in who is a member of the Western alliance and who is not, thus giving Moscow a privileged position relative to the peoples of the countries living around the Russian Federation, and many also accepted the idea that a country had to “qualify” for a defense alliance.
One does not “qualify” for membership in a defense alliance. One becomes part of it because it can make a contribution of one or another kind or because it faces the kind of threats from the same source that the alliance was established to repel. Indeed, the notion of “qualifying” appears to have been introduced to slow down the growth of NATO.
Those who oppose standing up to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine by taking such a step might do well to remember that when Hitler trampled on the Munich agreement by occupying Czechoslovakia, Neville Chamberlain, long the poster child for appeasement, announced that Britain was issuing security guarantees to all countries Berlin was threatening.
Are we in the West going to do less than that?