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Baltic States' fear should put action into heart of NATO

If there was ever a case for Europeans to lead the fight against terrorism by a rogue nation, it is provoked by the case of Russia against former Soviet republics that are now NATO members. Inviting the former Soviet republics to join NATO now that they have met the test to align with the free world was a timely and brilliant move. Now, it is their best defense against marauding Russia.

Baltic States fear should put action into heart of NATO
Patrik Stollarz/AFP/ Getty Images

The U.S. has its hand full in the Middle East where Europeans are are also essential to defeating the active threat from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. It can use some leadership reinforcement in Europe. Who can be trusted?

Can the Germans be entrusted to combat Russia when its fuel supply is so dependent upon them? Can the Germans be trusted given their aversion to combat, and sorted history? Is Great Britain too far from the front? How about France for a change of heart and new found soul?

One runs out of options very quickly. There is another approach to shoring defenses against Russia, and that is to draw a more definitive line on the earth in the Ukraine. Provide stronger back up and accelerate the Ukraine’s prospective membership into NATO.

What would it take for Ukraine to join NATO?

Well, here is a brilliant article from the International Business Times that trumps the NBC News report. Daniel Arkin at NBC News reports that the Baltic States are fearful, but Dennis Lynch at the International Business Times looks forward. Reading both reports puts balance into the analysis.

First, the Ukraine Parliament must vote to request membership in NATO which would align their intentions with the free world.

Second, NATO is said to not want to inherit an active obligation from a new member.

“NATO does not want to ;import a conflict into the alliance,’ Reginald Dale, the director of the Transatlantic Media Network at the Centers For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), told International Business Times.”

Well, that is a problem. What good is NATO in addressing this situation if it lacks the will to defend the Ukraine as a member or not? The Ukraine is the frontline battlefield with Russia.

Assessing the risks, the big problem is escalation. Let’s say that one way or another that the Ukraine receives modern weapons support NATO. They use that added support to smash Russians along the thin line that separates them at the Ukraine border.

The Russians don’t appreciate losing thousands of troops from missile strikes, so they retaliate with strikes of their own deeper into the Ukraine. The Ukraine calls upon additional support from NATO and now missiles are flying fast and furiously with the prospect that some Russian missiles strike NATO defenders. Yikes, there is something like a regional European theater war.

What would mitigate the risk? For one thing, Russians might appreciate defeats and put a stop to it. People are motivated to improve the quality of their lives. This entire Russian expansion maneuver is about improving business and economic infrastructure and locations for Russians. However, if Russians are blackballed from trade and if they must suffer military losses along the way, the price might be assessed as too great.

What makes the Russian strategy plausible to Putin today is NATO and U.S. tentative behavior and weak leadership.

“Will Ukraine Join NATO? What Needs To Happen For Ukraine To Join Military Alliance
By Dennis Lynch@neato_itsdennis
on August 29 2014 4:06 PM

Ukraine will make a bid to join NATO, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Friday. The move comes at a critical moment for a country in the middle of a tug-of-war between East and West.

On one side is its former USSR ally, Russia. On the other side is the rest of Europe.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen said Friday that NATO would allow Ukraine into the alliance, provided “Ukraine so wishes and fulfills the necessary criteria,” but that’s a big if for NATO. The “necessary criteria” are complex and in the end, any NATO member could shoot down Ukraine’s bid. Here’s how it could play out over the next few years.

The first step, which Yatsenyuk took on Friday, is to introduce a bill to Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, which would cancel out Ukraine’s nonalignment status and put Ukraine back on track to join NATO. Two years after bidding for and being declined a NATO membership in 2008, the Ukrainian government under newly elected President Viktor Yanukovych enacted a law that declared Ukraine as a “nonaligned” state. The law was unclear, and critics said it was meant to improve relations with Russia.

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“NATO requires some sort of political stability without major conflicts,” Dale said. “I can’t admit any one of these countries would want to get into this incredible mess.”

“Baltic States Fear Putin Amid Escalation in Ukraine

In the latest chapter of the West's confrontation with Russia, President Barack Obama will travel to Estonia on Wednesday to stress U.S. solidarity with the Baltic states, the former Soviet republics rattled by Russian President Vladimir Putin's intervention in nearby Ukraine.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — the trio of tiny nations nestled against the western flank of the Russian Federation — only regained their independence from Moscow in 1991 amid the collapse of the USSR. But as Putin appears to tighten his grip on swaths of Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, the Baltics fear they may be prey for their former ruler, experts say.

"The turmoil in Ukraine has deeply unnerved the Baltics," James Goldgeier, the dean of the School of International Service at American University, told NBC News. "They feel extraordinarily vulnerable to Putin and they're seeking reassurance from the West."”

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