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Short comments on news of US Navy destroyer in Black Sea and NATO readiness for military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine

Short comments on news of US Navy destroyer in Black Sea and NATO readiness for military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine

by Vitalii Usenko and Dmytro Usenko

NBC reported on April 3 2014:US Navy Sending Destroyer to Black Sea to Support Ukraine. Other agencies published more news about strong NATO support of Ukraine, including military intervention should Russia continue its advance into continental Ukraine. For example, Georgia Online reported on April 3, 2014 that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told iTV that NATO is not afraid of war with Russia.

Euronews reported that Moscow has called this the ‘verbal jousting’ of the Cold War.

If we analyze the news in detail, we find that this is not the case.

According to Reuters on March 6, 2014and NBC on April 3, 2014, “NATO’s mission is to reassure NATO allies alarmed by Russia’s effective seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.” The US Navy said in a statement that the USS Truxtun left Greece on Thursday en route to the Black Sea, and would conduct training with Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces.

“While in the Black Sea, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region,” the Navy said in a statement, without offering additional details.

We understand the goodwill of some agencies to hearten the Ukrainian military and Ukrainian people, but misinterpretations and misperceptions could lead to wrong conclusions and wrong military decisions. In the event of military activity in continental Ukraine, this destroyer will hardly participate in any military support of non-NATO Ukraine.

Sure this move is very symbolic to show Russians that NATO is watching them closely.

The news that NATO is not afraid to go to war with Russia if Russia attacks is true, but only if Russia attacks NATO Eastern European allies. These declarations often misrepresented NATO as being ready for war with Russia in the territory of Ukraine. This is unfortunately not the case. The strongest expression I have heard from NATO to Russia about Ukraine is this: More Russian intervention in Ukraine would be a “historic mistake.”

Sometimes it seems to us that NATO is not ready for a full-scale war with Russia in the event of a Russian advance into Eastern Europe, either.

Vitali's short comments 2

Anders Rasmussen, in his interview with iTV, replied to questions. “Just how steadfast is that guarantee is these days? Would NATO really be prepared to go to war with Russia?”

He replied, “It is a steadfast guarantee that we would take all steps necessary to defend our allies. This is really the essence of our alliance, that an attack on one ally would be considered an attack on all, and in that case we would help that ally”.

He also complained that “that would require a major change of policy in Western capitals. The US has withdrawn two brigades from Europe since the end of the Cold War and is not about to move them back again. Britain is still bringing forces home from Germany, and in spite of some disquiet among retired generals, is not going to cancel that redeployment.”

His reply to the question of whether Europe in particular is spending anything like enough on defense was telling:

“The brief answer is no. We can’t continue to disarm while Russia continues to increase its defense spending. While defense comes at a cost, insecurity might be much more expensive and you can’t insure your freedom without investing in security.”

Our point is that Ukrainians should be ready to defend themselves first of all. If somebody helps, thank you; if not, then so be it. What is good about Ukraine coming to the realization that nobody will militarily defend Ukraine except Ukrainians? Further Putin intervention could be prevented only by resoluteness, the unity of Ukraine, and the courage of Ukrainians. The only deterring factor is for Putin to perceive that the war would be protracted, with a high probability of lot of casualties on the Russian side in the event of military intervention in continental Ukraine, and, at the top of the list of concerns, guerilla warfare.

Vitali's short comments 3

Similar assumptions by Zbigniew Brzezinski, United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 and now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, were published in The Washington Post on March 4, 2014: Regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine, much depends on what Vladi­mir Putin does next. But what Putin does depends on not only his calculation of the likely NATO (and especially the US) response but also his estimate of how fiercely the Ukrainian people would respond to any further escalation by Russia

Finland protected its independence in a war against the USSR in spite of the USSR’s total military superiority. Why can’t Ukraine do it in 2014?

Vitali's short comments 4

Almost the same opinion is expressed by Andrey Illarionov, Putin ex-advisor, in a message published by UNIAN on April 4, 2014. “Putin faces a choice: either stop, or continue to advance.”

He also said that “Putin can least, and probably will try to, conduct one more offensive campaign. Realizing that sanctions are inevitable, that the chances of military response from the West in case of further advance into Ukraine are low, it is time to get something that still remains. The strategic goal remains the same—establishing control over the greater part of Ukraine. If it will not be possible to do so now using straightforward military operations, other tools could be employed. It could be either pro-Putin presidential candidate wins on May 25, 2014, or (if possible) spoiling the presidential election [in Ukraine].”

Vitali's short comments 5

Another piece, which I thought was an April Fools’ joke. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported on April 2, 2014: “Ukrainian soldiers in Liberia support their comrades who were injured during military exercises.” The personnel of the 56th helicopter battalion of the UN Mission in Liberia are very worried by the events taking place in Ukraine.

Great! What are Ukrainian soldiers doing in Liberia? Aren’t they needed in Ukraine on the border with Russia to be ready to fight Russian aggression, or is it enough for them to just express deep concern for their Ukrainian compatriots from the African continent?

Ukraine can rely only on itself for military defense of its territory. That is why Ukraine should urgently cancel all foreign missions of Ukrainian armed forces in the framework of UN and OSCE missions and return its soldiers and military equipment to Ukraine. We need Ukrainian soldiers to be ready to defend Ukraine, not countries in other parts of the globe. If the UN and OSCE are not going protect Ukraine, why should we support them?

In addition to this, Ukraine has expensive international arrangements requiring huge budget costs (international championships, and all international celebrations). FIBA Europe decided to let Ukraine host EuroBasket 2015. In my view, EuroBasket 2015 should be canceled and all investments redirected to the Ukrainian army, its rearmament. This investment is of top priority right now if we do not want the audiences for those events to be Russian servicemen.

Ukraine has the potential to defend itself and should explore it with maximal efficiency.

Written by: Dr. Vitalii Usenko, MD, MBA, expert of the Center of Military-Political Studies in the sphere of psychology of communications, and by Dmytro Usenko, student at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

in co-operation with Edmond Huet,  Euromaidan Press armament and military questions specialist, consultant to French TV and radio

Edited by Robin Rohrback


1. US Navy Sending Destroyer to Black Sea to Support Ukraine – NBC – April 3rd 2014

Pentagon spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren confirmed that a ship is heading to the Black Sea in the coming days to “reassure our [NATO] allies of our commitment to the region.”

2. US Navy destroyer heads to Black Sea for pre-planned exercises – Reuters – March 4, 3014

3. Outgoing Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen issues warnings to Russia and Nato members – ITV – April 3, 2014

4. NATO’s Rasmussen: more Russian intervention in Ukraine would be ‘historic mistake’ – Euronews – April 2, 2014

5. Winter War: USSR against Finland

6. What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response, by Zbigniew Brzezinski, – The Washington Post, Published: March 4, 2014

7. Путин стоит перед выбором: остановиться или продолжить наступление – Илларионов – UNIAN – April 4, 2014

8. Soldiers of Ukraine in Liberia support their comrades who were injured during military exercises. – April 2, 2014

9. FIBA Europe

10. EuroBasket 2015


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