Askold S. Lozynskyj: Ukraine is the most logical NATO ally
The refrain from Washington is, now is not the time. This is a reverberating refrain from the White House and the Department of State which is heard loud and clear in Kyiv and Moscow. Ruminations and puzzlement ensue. Why not? When will be the time? Ukraine’s NATO membership is the most paradoxical issue of our time. Ukraine is the most logical NATO ally.
Frankly, Bucharest NATO Summit in 2008 was not the timeline. The timeline goes way back to the beginning of the Cold War and even before to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, which led generations astray. Appeasement of aggressors is the most disproven strategy of the last two centuries. It did not work with Nazi Germany, the USSR, or Russia today.
Rationally with more than half of NATO members militarily merely symbolic, it’s time to get serious.
It is 13 years after the NATO Bucharest Summit when it was the time for Ukraine’s NATO Membership Action Plan, which was not delivered. Appeasers should have expected that during those 13 years Russia’s behavior would have been good. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Here is an incomplete list of Russia’s bad behavior, payback for appeasement: Russia invaded Georgia; increased its military presence in Moldova; invaded Ukraine twice, killing thousands of innocents; shored up its puppets in the Middle East, Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian regime; killed its own opposition leader Boris Nemtsov; attempted to murder another opposition leader Alexei Navalny and when that attempt failed, imprisoned him; grossly violated the rights of its national minorities by dissolving all Ukrainian national and regional structures in Russia; blatantly murdered 298 innocents on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 by shooting them out the air on July 17, 2014; interfered in numerous democratic elections, including at least three in the United States; hacked an energy pipeline in the United States; hacked U.S. government agencies and commercial entities; transmitted microwave radiation resulting in Havana syndrome and more.
What more does Russia need to do to show the world that remorse or gratitude do not exist in the Russian vocabulary? Why should Russia improve its behavior when egregiously bad behavior is rewarded by the likes of Germany and the United States?
Joe Biden has started his own presidential history of rewarding bad behavior. He recently waived sanctions on a Nord Stream 2 contractor enabling Russia to establish energy hegemony in Europe. Ukraine’s NATO Membership Action Plan is not on the agenda at the upcoming NATO Summit and Biden, who ran for office with an anti-Russian platform, will be meeting later with someone whom he acknowledged to be a killer. This meeting can only be viewed as a global political rehabilitation of that killer.
As an American, I am constantly astounded by American political ignorance. This is not simply naivete. Most Americans are ignorant when it comes to foreign affairs. Many simply do not care. Almost 50 years in Washington has not made Biden any more astute.
He is starting to resemble such historical appeasers as Neville Chamberlain. Don’t get too excited, Donald Trump supporters. Even so, if Biden resembles Chamberlain, Trump resembled Josef Stalin. Being better than Trump is not a high bar. It’s no bar at all. But it is a bitter disappointment to Biden’s supporters who believed in him. Biden’s ability to comprehend the Russian threat is amiss.
The irony here is palpable. Biden closed the Keystone pipeline because of environmental concerns which resulted in unemployment and skyrocketing energy prices. Where were those environmental concerns when he waived sanctions on those building Nord Stream 2 which potentially is an environmental disaster? Biden justified the Nord Stream 2 fiasco as support for our European allies and in our national interest. Well, Poland and Ukraine were slapped in the face as U.S. allies. In both instances, the beneficiary of these decisions was Russia with increased prices on energy and energy hegemony in Europe. Russia has to consider Biden an asset.
With Ukraine not invited to Brussels and Ukraine NATO MAP not on the agenda, followed by a Biden-Putin summit, Russia is the winner all around. Ukraine, Poland and the American people are the losers.
Ukrainian Americans of all stripes and persuasions have to rise, demand a White House meeting with the president himself (not some surrogate), voice their discontent to put it mildly and insist on better behavior by their own President. It’s not too late. Biden has to be reminded that appeasement is not an option, that he is the president of the United States and may not perform as an asset for Russia. Russia remains a menace to the rest of the world, one which continues to grow like cancer and disregard civilized human behavior. Now is the time to reverse the Russia appeasement course! Now is the time for Ukraine’s NATO membership.
Askold S. Lozynskyj is a New York attorney and president of the Ukrainian Free University Foundation. He was president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America between 1992-2000 and president of the Ukrainian World Congress between 1998-2008.