to AUR, e-Poshta | 30Apr2007 | Will Zuzak

NATO for Ukraine?

Searching for NATO + Ukraine on the Internet reveals that NATO-Ukraine relations were initiated immediately upon achieving independence with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. This was followed by Ukraine joining the Partnership for Peace program in 1994, the NATO-Ukraine Charter on a Distinctive Partnership in 1997 and the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan in 2002. Joint military exercises were carried out annually on Ukrainian territory until orchestrated public demonstrations in Crimea forced the cancellation of the exercises in 2006. Ukraine initially participated nominally in the Iraq war and continues to participate in international peace keeping operations.

The military and political elites in Ukraine appear to have supported these initiatives; however, the general populace was more skeptical and the Russophile element was adamantly opposed. At present, the presidential administration of Viktor Yushchenko continues to support the integration of Ukraine into NATO and the European Union; whereas the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich is generally opposed to this idea.

A similar Internet search for NATO-Russia indicates that the Russian Federation under Boris Yeltsin was very favourably disposed towards NATO with the signing of the NATO-Russia Charter in 1997. Even under the administration of Vladimir Putin, the creation of the NATO-Russia Council in 2002 envisioned Russia participating in NATO -- at least politically, if not militarily.

Unfortunately, NATO and/or U.S. involvement in Yugoslavia in the 1990's, in Afghanistan since 2001 and in Iraq since 2003 has placed this developing relationship under increasing strain. The very recent U.S. proposal to establish ten missile sites in Poland and radar installations in the Czech Republic has brought prospective collaboration to virtual collapse.

My own views on this proposal are coloured by an article by Donald Barlett and James Steele in the March issue of Vanity Fair [1]. An excerpt states:

On the evening of January 17, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower came down from the White House living quarters to the Oval Office and delivered his last address to the American people as president. This was the famous speech in which he warned against the "disastrous rise of misplaced power" in the hands of what he called "the military-industrial complex" -- the sturdy hybrid formed by crossbreeding American corporate interests with those of the Pentagon and the intelligence community.

... Within a decade of Eisenhower's farewell speech, Beyster would create an enterprise epitomizing the military-industrial complex that caused Eisenhower such dismay. Now, four decades later, that company epitomizes something beyond Eisenhower's worst nightmare -- the "military-industrial-counterterrorism complex."

In my opinion, Poland and the European Union need these missiles like a hole in the head. These missiles will provide no security or general economic benefit. But they will provide plenty of opportunity for shady individuals and organizations participating in this "military-industrial-counterterrorism complex" to line their pockets with loot siphoned from the pocketbooks of American taxpayers. Furthermore, it places the Ukrainian populace in a terrible dilemma.

Allow me to make the following facetious proposal to solve the developing impasse. Ukraine should invite NATO to place its 10 missile sites on its northern border aimed at Moscow. Simultaneously, Russia should be invited to place its missiles on Ukraine's southwestern border aimed at various European capitals. Charging an annual fee of $1 billion per site, Ukraine's fiscal problems would be solved. Furthermore, Ukraine would be in an excellent position to provide mediation services during military crisis involving the two sides. I am confident that satirists and political cartoonists will be able to flesh out the details of this scenario.

It is understandable that the Western Diaspora and nationalistic Ukrainians look toward NATO as a guarantee against Ukraine being re-incorporated into a new Russian Empire, as well as a step towards gaining entry into the European Union. It is also understandable that Ukrainian citizens of Russian, Far Eastern and other ethnic origins may view NATO relations as a threat to their familial and economic connections within the Russian Federation. My personal view is that Ukraine should maintain relations with NATO as in the past, but to insist that the legitimate concerns of the Russian Federation be taken into account.

During an election campaign, it is likely that Ukrainophobes will magnify this issue to try to tear the country apart. It is incumbent upon all patriotic Ukrainians to refrain from polemics on NATO.

Respectfully yours
William Zuzak, Ph.D., P. Eng. (retired); 2007.04.30
Edmonton, Canada

The reference cited above [1] is available at ==================================================