To the editor:
Fact-checking recent Ukrainian history, the George W. Bush administration’s addition of three Baltic states in 2004 to NATO was a welcome invitation to the list of former Warsaw Pact countries joining the alliance. These countries had been forcefully occupied by the Soviets for decades under the auspices of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Unfortunately, the euphoric feelings generated in Washington led them to invite Ukraine and Georgia to join the membership. However, key allies of the alliance began to balk at the idea.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not trust the government of Georgia and was acutely aware of the instability and corruption in Ukraine. Despite the reservations of Germany and France — and the potential to antagonize Russia — a membership action plan was drawn up in Bucharest during the 2008 NATO summit.
Although no actual timetable was given, the outcome seemed clear to those pushing the agenda.
It is astounding to this author that nobody would consider that Russia would be threatened by NATO absorbing the second largest nation in Europe after themselves with a population of 42 million people, and sharing a border of 1,426 miles alongside them, a threat.
In addition, its ethnic Russian population averages 17 percent of the total, with large majorities in both the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine of between 45 and 60 percent of the population. Ethnic Russians make up 71 percent of Sevastopol in Crimea, which also happens to the home of the Russian Navy Black Sea Fleet since 1783. It is their only deep-sea warm weather port that gives access to the Black Sea, Aegean and Mediterranean.
The Russians will not give up this area any more than China will ever give up Tibet. Unfortunately, tensions generated by the Ukrainian government directly led to its occupation.
In 2008, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko ratified a law which allowed Russian-speaking children to study academic subjects in school up to the fifth grade. All education past the fifth grade — including college — would only be taught in Ukrainian.
The overt attempt to expand NATO to Russia’s borders led to the occupation of Crimea, Eastern Ukraine, and the dangerous $350 billion buildup of the Black Sea Fleet defenses and ships. It is laughable to think that a $400 million U.S. aid package to Ukraine will actually shift the balance of power in that region.
It must be noted that President Obama’s position was that Ukraine was not a member of NATO, was totally vulnerable to Russian domination, and was not in anybody’s core interests to start a war over. His administration was criticized for not giving more lethal military aid to Ukraine.
Perhaps it’s questionable whether such aid would have escalated the conflict. However, are we willing to make such a bet? And should we actually be playing to Vladimir Putin’s claims to protect ethnic Russians wherever they live, as he did in Georgia and Ukraine?
Russian aggression should be punished by enforcing the existing sanctions and beefing up existing Eastern European NATO members military, intelligence and internet security. Western Europe should make a greater effort to become energy independent of its 40 percent dependency on Russian natural gas, which flows through Ukraine on its Nord Stream One pipeline.
Germany, despite its failure in producing green energy, must not allow the completion of the Nord Two pipeline directly from Russia to its country until relations improve.
And President Trump’s position — which was supported by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama — that NATO update its own security and spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense, must be instituted.