West’s choice: (a) Assist Ukraine or (b) Destroy the global security system

Nuclear explosion


Analysis & Opinion

Many in the West fear that providing military assistance to Ukraine would open the way for disasters ranging from the potential loss of an American helicopter as happened in Somalia to a possible nuclear exchange between Russia and the West as Vladimir Putin has threatened.

But such arguments, as emotionally compelling as they may be, look at only one side of the ledger and fail to address the other and more important side: what will happen if Putin’s aggression in Ukraine succeeds while the West stands by and does little or nothing – and not just on the former Soviet space but around the world?

On Novy region 2 today, Kseniya Kirillova says that while the concerns about the risks involved are understandable, they are misplaced because they ignore the fact that the consequences of not assisting Ukraine will be far worse than any of those from doing so.

The biggest fear some in the West and especially in Europe have is that providing assistance would provoke Putin, lead to an escalation of the conflict, and possibly open the way to the use of nuclear weapons. But “the chief paradox” of the situation is in fact that not providing Ukraine with military help may make that more likely, Kirillova says.

She notes that Ukraine gave up the nuclear weapons on its territory in exchange for a guarantee of security as offered in the December 1994 Budapest Memorandum signed not only by Ukraine but also by Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

That agreement in turn is part of the more general security system in Europe, a system “build on guarantees.” But “if such guarantees are violated in a barbarous fashion, and Europe and the US do nothing for their defense, then we will get the destruction of the entire existing world order” and enter into a Hobbesian world in which each will look to its own defense.

In that event, the threat of the use of nuclear weapons will come not just from Moscow. Other governments, “uncertain that they can defend themselves” or that anyone else will defend them, will be less willing to give up nuclear weapons if they have them and more inclined to try to develop them if they don’t.

A world in which a large number of countries do so will not be a stable one. Instead, it will be one in which at some point either through miscalculation or otherwise, someone will use them and someone else will have to respond.

Those who argue against providing military assistance to Ukraine “frequently forget,” Kirillova says, that they are in fact “acknowledging ‘the right of the strong’ to violate the territorial integrity of any weaker states by those which have important economic or political significance for the West or simply are more effective in using blackmail.”

But “it is not too late to correct the situation even now.” And as the risks of doing nothing are so much greater than those of taking action, Kirillova concludes, “let us hope that despite all the warnings of the German side, the United States will provide the victim of aggression with the help it is asking for” lest the aggressor and potential victims decide that aggression works.

And that means, she continues, that “the potential victims of aggression will begin to search for their own means to blackmail their opponents – if they do not see any other means for the defense of their interests” in a world in which guarantees have no meaning. Unfortunately, in today’s anything but stable world, there are a large number of countries likely to do so.

Iran is the most obvious, but it is hardly alone. Among others Kirillova lists are the Kurds, Serbia and Kosovo, Ukraine itself, Belarus, and Central Asian countries fearful of the Islamist threat; but that list would grow if others ceased to believe that they were protected or alternatively restrained by Western guarantees.

She notes that Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has already said that it was a mistake for his country to have allowed the nuclear weapons on its territory to be removed and that he has no intention of repeating it by allowing weapons-grade uranium to be taken as well. “If we had [such] arms now, people would speak with us in a different way,” he says.

“The world could turn out to be on the edge of complete mutual destruction,” the commentator says. Helping Ukraine would slow and possibly stop “such a development of events and not accelerate it as some European leaders fear.” Had the West taken a tougher line last year, it would have required less of an effort than it will now.

But “it is not too late to correct the situation even now.” And as the risks of doing nothing are so much greater than those of taking action, Kirillova concludes, “let us hope that despite all the warnings of the German side, the United States will provide the victim of aggression with the help it is asking for” lest the aggressor and potential victims decide that aggression works.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Richard Hoover


  • Roman Sverdetsa

    I sent my Senator a email last year to get the Ukrainians some shoulder fired antitank missiles and antiaircraft missiles but by now the Ukrainians should have been able to build there own.I do not think the Ukrainians will take it to the russians on their own soil so what good does it do if they will not go on offense and clean these varmints out?Sometimes the Talking about it is as bad in Ukraine as it is here in the USA!!! I have business interests in Ukraine so I want the Ukrainians to succeed but the nation needs to get united and physically fight this mess.

  • Jacks Channel

    Only a fool would use nuclear weapons in the context of this conflict. Putin is an idiot and should be tried in the Hague. The World deserves better.
    I want to repeat this for all of Putin’s supporters out there. There is “NO” National Ukrainian Nazism. Not in Kyiv or in the citizenry of Ukraine. Do you know what “National” means?
    Where are these hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian Nazis? The separatists keep saying that they exist, but where are they? Lets see the mountains of evidence that should exist.
    They make it sound like the 3rd Reich has come back to life all over again. Well, where is all of this Nazism? Lets see the Nazi rallys, the banners, the posters, the beatings. Lets see it.

    • Rods

      There are many more fascists in Russian than Ukraine, something Putler likes to forget, especially where some of the more prominent ones are in Putler’s inner circle.

      Attacks on Jews and immigrants by fascist gangs in Moscow is a known problem. In 2011 5 members of a Moscow fascist gang were convicted of 27 racist murders.

    • Scradje

      Russia is infested with fascists. Some of them are in the Kremlin. Fascists masquerading as anti-fascists; maskarovka.

  • Rods

    The only way to stop Russia is to make the price so high in monetary and casualty terms that the price becomes too high to sustain either politically or for a broke Russia in monetary terms. This means arming Ukraine with defensive weapons and the West defending the established international security order. If Putin wins in Ukraine, Moldova will fall a short time after followed by Georgia and all of the -stans. Putin will then move on to the Baltics, the Balkans and Western Europe as Putler needs constant wars to stay in power, now the Russian economy has gone south.

    People need to realise, the European leaders that are asking the most for Ukraine to lose through no assistance from the West are the same countries surprise, surprise, that are most dependent upon Russian gas. In other words unprincipled leaders, who are gas at any price whores. Germany in the biggest Russian gas user in Europe, so next time she veto’s Western weapons to Ukraine, you know what to call her.

  • Milton Devonair

    The world will eventually have to stop the expansion of the russian apes.
    No one thinks that the russian monkeys would drunkenly fall on a launch button….but….they are russians. They really do drink their own kool aid….or vodka so to speak.

    hitler didn’t start out a nutbat…he became one when he became so intoxicated with power…..intoxicated…….

  • Brent

    Excellent perspective.

    The one thing Obama fails to realize is he has damaged the U.S. international credibility likely more than “Dubya” did. What country, in their right mind, will accept any U.S. guarantee in any negotiations (especially in giving up its nukes), when Obama failed to back up that U.S. guarantee to Ukraine with the Budapest Memorandum?

    The other fatal mistake of Obama is his policy that he needs to have Russia involved in negotiations with ‘rogue’ states like Iran, Syria, North Korea, and others. Russia is a supporter of those rogue states, and wants to see them continue with their anarchy because it occupies America’s attention and keeps America’s eyes off of Eastern Europe. As well, Russia itself has become a rogue state. It needs to be isolated. It’s behavior in the modern world is not acceptable, and needs to be dealt with, not rewarded.

    Was Russia involved in the U.S. Cuba negotiations this past year? No. That’s why they succeeded. Obama, and future U.S. leaders need to make it known to Russia that it will be shut out of a seat at future negotiations unless it can show it belongs and is interested in solving problems, and not creating them. Right now, Russia is nothing more than a bigger North Korea. With more nukes. And resources.

    Can the World get resources including petro products elsewhere? Absolutely. It my cost more, but it won’t be funding terrorists.

    We can also shut Russia out of our SWIFT banking system, out of our financial markets for recapitilzation, out of the G20, and out of our import markets. We can seek other sources of better quality goods and not fund Russia’s terrorism, or supply them with our superior technology. Economically, they are the size of Italy. No offence Italy, but losing you as a trading partner doesn’t scare us either. The Russian bear will turn to the Chinese dragon. The last time I checked, the Chinese love Russian gall bladders so Russia won’t get away with a more attentive China than it has with Obama’s failed foreign policy of ‘doing nothing’. Remember, Obama is the one who called ISIS ‘The J.V. team’ last winter and was scrambling to put together a coalition to defeat them 6 months later.

    Russia’s stated goal is to replace U.S. as the dominant global power. Why should the U.S. negotiate with them, or appease them, when Russia declares it is the enemy of the U.S., of the free and liberal West, our rights and our freedoms, and our successes?

    • Murf

      Obama has two major problems
      1) He thinks he has vision of the way the future should look like.
      2) He thinks he can make it happen.
      The problem is you can not shape the future by leading from behind.
      Fro good or bad Presidents like Bush and Clinton lead. People may not have liked where they went but there was no doubt which way the party was going.
      But to do this Obama would have to stick his neck out put it out there, go all in.
      He just can’t do that. in the end he is a small ball politician who got to much power to quickly and to easily.
      In Ukraine he ha his “Ich am Berliner” moment. A moment that could have defined him in history.Had he the US would have had a friend for years to come. Obama would have cemented his legacy. all his other foibles and failures would have been forgotten.
      Instead he chose to hedge, to keep his options open, to play the angles.
      He relied on the mixed loyalties of the Europeans to give him the appearance of strength.
      Strength that is just not there.

  • Czech Friend

    It is over folks. Merkel and Holande on their way to Moscow to kneel in front of Putler and offer him any part of Ukraine he wants.

    They will be tried as well as Russian agressor for this treason on world peace and international law.

  • http://huge-income.co.uk/ Abdul Hashim

    The west’s idea of arming ukraine is a dangerous idea. A small smoke could lead to a spark, which could lead to a fire that could cause widespread damage and if it gets out of hand the damage could be colossal as Putin puts it.

    WWI and WWII was enough, we dont need WWIII. If the west wants a battle of the fittest with Putin, then let them all go on mars and nuke the hell out of each other but not here on our planet. No. This is not the middle east where the west thinks its Iraq – its not, nor is this Iran. We all once been in the cold war and dont want to go there again nor do we need to be reminded of Hiroshima or Nagasaki but some one needs to talk some sense into the heads of these nutters and lunatics.

    To Russia NATO means nothing its just an acronym. At the moment there are several European countries dragged into this which could be seen as another World War building up. If the worst came to the worst it wouldnt be like the 80’s or 90’s desert storm war or the old soviets in Libya but Russia is capable of firing 300 nuclear warheads at a time towards the west and of course the west would retalitate but who would win ? No one. Even if the west wins still the whole world would die itself taking all its inhabitants and beauty with it because of severe after effects.

    The world would and become another planet Mars http://goo.gl/6rRWha