As you may know, just over a week ago, Vladimir Putin decided to have a “peacekeeping mission” in Ukraine. Putin’s incursion has killed thousands and displacing millions. He has bombed schools, television stations, orphanages, and residences. Even his thugs have been caught killing civilians. But this blog isn’t about the modern-day Hitler who is unhinged, it’s about those of us who fancy themselves foreign policy experts.
I have been asked by a plethora of people about why NATO will not help Ukraine at all. I will lay it out. NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization it contains 28 European countries and 2 North American ones. NATO is based on mutual aid for an attacked country with attacked being the key word. This is not an offensive alliance or an aggressive one, quite the opposite. To join NATO you must apply, and first and foremost, you cannot have an active border dispute. This is the key thing that Putin has exploited over the past decade plus. Putin, by invading/annexing parts of Ukraine (Crimea, Luhansk, and Donesk regions) created a border conflict. The World minus Putin’s cronies never acknowledged the separation of those areas from Ukraine. Putin for his part didn’t either, essentially calling them separatist controlled regions. Putin did similar in Georgia, and Moldova. By doing this he made it so NATO could not accept them into the alliance.
As laid out earlier, they cannot join NATO because of a border conflict. It doesn’t matter if Belarus joins Putin, because again, Ukraine is not a member, so they get no protection. Ditto to the other named Baltic States. NATO plays defense not offense, in fact a little-known piece of history, NATO has only invoked Article 5 once in its history. That was in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the US, and most NATO countries removed themselves after securing the Afghanistan region assuring no additional attacks were coming. Article 5 is the most cited one by today’s “foreign policy correspondents” saying NATO should defend Ukraine. Article 5 clearly spells out, for lack of a better term; an attack on a member is an attack on us all, and all members will provide mutual defense for the member under attack.
A friend even went as far as telling me, why won’t NATO have a fighter jet take out a convoy of tanks or blow up a Russian airbase. Again, Ukraine isn’t in NATO. Any member country that intervenes would in essence be declaring war. If that were to occur, I’m not sure article 5 would even come into play if the member was counterattacked. He went on to further point out that neighboring countries were monitoring the situation, and have sent troops to Poland, etc. I explained again, Poland is NATO and right now the NATO countries are saying to Putin “do something stupid and attack Poland or another NATO member and it won’t be fun for you.”
NATO getting involved as a whole can have major repercussions for Ukraine as well. Right now quite a few countries (China especially) are sitting this one out seeing it as Russia v Ukraine. An attack by additional countries, especially an alliance likely brings China into the war, in their home region.
Another friend pointed out NATO countries are giving supplies to Ukraine; again, that is ok, since it’s indirect. It’s one thing to send bombs, missiles etc. it’s another thing entirely to send a fighter jet and a pilot.
So long story short, if Ukraine prevails and drives Russia out of its territory, it can try to join NATO, it’s a long process, and it could possibly be expedited. However, a more likely scenario is Russia occupying Ukraine and making it a puppet state. NATO is there only to defend their members, not help Ukraine directly.