Ukrainian membership of NATO would be a brazen provocation that could finally break the back of Moscow’s patience. Besides, very few seem to worry about the ontology of Ukrainian nationalism.
The Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago and with it eventually the “Iron Curtain” which had divided Europe from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic.
Russia accepted this on the basis of a clear assurance from the US that NATO would not expand its frontline any closer to Russia’s borders. A promise that wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on.
That much is demonstrated daily by the presence of US missiles in Poland and Romania, periodic war-games which are clearly predicated on possible war with Russia, and now with the renewed “offer” to the Ukraine of membership of the NATO war alliance.
It is obviously true that some at least are nervous about the Ukraine finally joining NATO. They worry it might be that straw that finally breaks the back of Russia’s patience. They worry about Ukraine’s stability. The country has had governments friendly to Russia relatively recently and might do so again. They compare it to Turkey and worry about whether the new president of Ukraine can really be guaranteed to stay in power and moreover stay loyal to the anti-Russian cause.
And some, at least one hopes, worry about the ontology of Ukrainian nationalism. In the week in which the German city of Dresden declared a “Nazi emergency,” so worried are the authorities about a far-right insurgency, the merest glance at the right of Ukrainian politics is enough to chill the blood.
Just recently, Ukrainian fascists destroyed a memorial to the Soviet war-hero Marshal Zhukov, without whom I might have been writing this in German.
When shocked locals came out with candles and flowers to place at the scene of the desecration, fascist mobs savagely attacked them.
What if NATO actually does, finally and after many failed promises, admit the Ukraine to NATO? To whom exactly, will they be pledging to ride into a potential valley of death with, and why?
Ukrainian membership of NATO would be a brazen provocation given the state of relations with Russia and would take the world, as Mikhail Gorbachev – the man who believed the empty promises of President Ronald Reagan – said this week, dangerously close to nuclear war.
The US unilateral abrogation of the INF Treaty together with the absolute unpredictability in the White House complete a picture of potential conflict between the two superpowers that should shake even the most somnolent in Europe which would be incinerated in any such conflict.
As always, I ask myself why.
When the USSR existed and its armed socialist hinterland frontiered Western countries there was a clear and obvious basis for confrontation. The Soviet Union and what it stood for was an existential threat to Western capitalism and its role in the world.
But Communism is 30 years dead and so is the USSR.
While Russia demands respect for its legitimate interests, and refuses diktat in foreign affairs, it threatens nobody least of all ideologically. Yet, the endless preoccupation with Russia is as virulent now as it was in all but the coldest points of the Cold War. It’s genuinely difficult to provide an answer to my question: ‘why?’
No day goes by without the words Russia and Putin on the lips of the British media and political class. And not in a good way.
Although events do still have a capacity to surprise. This week we have the spectacle of the Labour Party in full pursuit of the Conservative prime minister and his leading cadres with the charge that the Tories are secretly, very secretly obviously, agents of the Kremlin.
The last time the UK had general election in December was in 1923. It led to the first-ever Labour government. Two years later the government was brought down by the publication of the Zinoviev Letter, a forgery cooked up by the Conservatives, which sought to show that Labour were, ahem, Russian agents.
And at the launch of the Conservative election campaign Boris Johnson denounced Jeremy Corbyn as… Stalin!
Russia, Russia, always Russia…
By George Galloway