Collective defense organizations like NATO have not only positive sides – like maintaining peace – but also negative ones, e.g., non-member states might feel endangered. Therefore, actions taken by a collective defense organization have to be deeply concerned with keeping a certain balance between the members and non-members to avoid any misunderstandings. Provocative actions could sometimes be allowed, but political leaders should know the limit and do not go beyond. They should also know when it is time to stop provoking and starting to withdraw as well as the timing to go on to the offensive. In all cases deeply concerned and comprehensive plans including exit strategies are essential. Especially, scrupulous preparations and an adequate timing are paramount to succeed in a hasty expansion.

Democracy and Human Rights seem to be symbols of a peaceful and sophisticated (highly developed) society in westernized countries. These values are doubtlessly worthwhile. It is also certainly important that a sovereign state holds the rights to determine its business or security partners if the citizens of the nation are ready to achieve their desired ties with partners. Hence, discussions and changing ideas among the citizenry are important to gain a mature assessment even if this process needs much time and is further compounded by diverse cultures and languages. Such movements have to be initiated and advocated within a country, not imposed from the outside.

When taking a look at the current Ukraine Conflict, some questions arise: who started it and for whom is it? Different languages and cultures live together in the same country. Was the Russian minority in the Ukraine going to be protected by the liberalists who succeeded in ousting Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president? Hypotheses abound: if the Ukrainian citizens had been ready to confront the issue of segregation, and if the pro EU people had not received (token) support from the EU and the US, etc., would the conflict still have escalated as it has today? It is worth asking these sorts of questions now before the next political steps are taken.

Concerning the geopolitical situation, the location of Ukraine is precarious since the Black Sea is the only door to the Aegean Sea for Russia. However, this means that Ukraine is also attractive to neighbor nations. Ukraine could cunningly think about keeping a balance, abstaining from a political black-and-white either-or decision.

To avoid further deterioration of relationships between the EU, the USA and Russia and also among the citizens of Ukraine, further sanctions against Russia should be stopped. The EU should neither intervene nor be involved anymore in this conflict and persuade the new Ukrainian government of focusing on economic development and the reconciliation of its citizens to rebuild a democratic new Ukraine. Continuing sanctions and involvement in this conflict results in more losses than gains for Europe. Specially, the people in Ukraine do not gain anything except breaking up each other. They suffer from both insecurity and worsening economic conditions. The worst case will entail the permanent loss of some people’s current home country. This is surely not what the people in Ukraine wanted.

Foreign Affairs recently published an article titled “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault” by John J. Mearsheimer,[1] who is one of the leading international theorists. This kind of article actually should be expected from Europe, but the glimpse it allows regarding the tolerance and freedom of thoughts and expression in the US as opposed to Europe is revealing.

To encourage Ukraine to rebuild its economy and to grant clearly circumscribed and agreed upon autonomy to the Russian minority has first priority, and the question whether or not Ukraine becomes a member of NATO can be postponed indefinitely. Nobody would loose face with this course of action because becoming a member of NATO is not actually a priority for Ukrainian citizens. Indeed and without a doubt, building a stable nation with a strong economy is much more important for this country.

 

About author:

 

Kumiko Ahr-Okutomo

Born in Japan.

 

She wrote her doctoral thesis, supervised by Professor Albert A. Stahel (Strategic Studies) at the University of Zurich, about power shifts in East Asia and Japan’s security politics. She is now a research associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies of Professor Stahel.

[1] Mearsheimer, John J.: Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin. Foreign Affairs, September/October 2014 [Accessed September 1, 2014] http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141769/john-j-mearsheimer/why-the-ukraine-crisis-is-the-wests-fault