NATO won’t do more than express concern, if Putin attacks another former Soviet republic, Illarionov says

Image: flickr.com

Image: flickr.com 

2016/09/16 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics, Russia

If Vladimir Putin sends his forces to seize into any of the former Soviet republics — including the three Baltic states which are NATO members — the Western alliance won’t do anything more than express “deep concern” because the major European governments will be led by “people loyal to Russia,” according to Andrey Illarionov.

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005), senior fellow in the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005), senior fellow in the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC

Because ever more NATO countries appear likely to be led by such people in the near future, the commentator says, they will be ever more willing to “cooperate with the dictator from Russia” and ever less ready “to risk anything for the defense even of NATO borders not to speak of countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia and others.”

As a result, “on this space, which now exists in a vacuum deprived of security will occur what Putin has often talked about, the realization of [his] program of ‘the Russian world.’” And Moscow “one way or another will seek the establishment of control by military and non-military means over a greater part of Ukraine, Belarus, Transdniestria, and part of Georgia.”

“It is thus not excluded,” Illarionov says, that Moscow will seek to gain control of “northeastern Estonia and eastern Latvia.”

“We know,” he told a recent meeting in Poland, “what answer NATO and the Western world will give to these actions. There will be no answer.” Or more precisely, there will be expressions of concern regarding “the violation of international law” and “the violation of all principles which we have known since World War II. But there won’t be any concrete response.”

Given the likelihood of that, the Russian commentator says, Putin is likely to achieve his goals.

Tragically, Illarionov may prove to be correct, although all people of good will should hope he isn’t.

Putin has shown himself a master of combining aggression in some spheres with expressions of a desire to cooperate in others and to simply wait out Western leaders who feel themselves compelled to show progress by reaching an accord with him.

And even more worrisome, there is an increasing willingness in the West to accept the the former Soviet space as lying within Russia’s droit de regard and to say that because Moscow’s moves are confined to the former Soviet space, they do not threaten the West and should be viewed as a rather typical sorting out of imperial legacies.

But such views entail two kinds of dangers that should matter very much to the West.

  • On the one hand, if many in the region conclude that Illarionov is right, some may surrender but others may behave in more radical ways, provoking a Russian imperialist response that could threaten ever more of the Soviet region.
  • And on the other, despite what Putin and his admirers may think and even suggest, there is no indication that Putin has any intention of stopping at the Soviet borders.

His actions in Syria in support of a dictator there should convince anyone open to convincing that he has a much larger and more dangerous agenda – and that if he is not blocked now, he will pursue it.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Steve

    What the author has failed to address is the constant appeasement of Western Europe which essentially caused two world wars. We are looking for a third. 65% of Germans do not believe in coming to the aid of another NATO member and the joke within NATO about France is if you want to know which side they are on you only need to see which way their gun barrels are pointed. It should disgust France, Germany, and the Czech Republic that they, COMBINED, have less tanks than are currently in Eastern Ukraine under DNR/LNR control. The best bet for the Baltic’s and Poland is not only to form an alliance but to get nuclear weapons. Nations with nukes do not get attacked. And given the pussification of Western Europe there really isn’t any other choice.

    • Quartermaster

      That’s the major stupidity of all this. Nuclear non-proliferation has simply become a joke. The smaller states have being forced to nuclearize if they want to survive.

  • Lev Havryliv

    There is a clear way for the West to stop Putin in his neo-imperialist tracks. In fact the West holds all the cards but lacks the foresight and courage to stand up to the dictator-aggressor Putin. Two measures are required.

    1. Serious sanctions against Putin and his cronies. Travel bans, asset seizures, withdrawal from the SWIFT system rather than the puny sanctions the US and EU have instituted.

    2. Help arm Ukraine with modern defensive military equipment like Javelin anti-tank weapons.

    The West’s failure to respond to Putin’s aggression in Georgia, the Anschluss of Crimea followed by Putin’s invasion of the Donbas, has only emboldened Putin.

    Has the West forgotten the lessons of history which indicate that the only way to deal with international bullies is to challenge them rather than appease them?

    • Quartermaster

      Has the west forgotten? Yes. Yes they have. Just as Munich did not prevent war, only made it certain, the actions of the west have supported Putin’s rise.

  • Patrick

    I think this commentator is right. In the referendum about the association treaty we saw what the Dutch (my people) solidarity with Ukraine was worth: Nothing !

    I tell you, the Dutch won’t do anything substantial. The only thing they will do is to save their necks and hope Russia will stop at their border.

    With the present level of solidarity in Europe, NATO is a face, under pressure of a huge enemy it will disintegrate.

    • MichaelA

      how many dutch voted against the treaty?

  • Daniel Goyette

    These countries need to prepare for war by themselves.

    • MichaelA

      they are