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“Collective Chamberlain” of scholars calls to appease Russia ahead of NATO summit

A group of European and American academics has sparked controversy by urging NATO to reject Ukraine’s membership bid, drawing comparisons to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany.
“Restart Button” offered by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland 6 March 2009. Screenshot from video
“Collective Chamberlain” of scholars calls to appease Russia ahead of NATO summit

The authors of the open letter in The Guardian, which denies Ukraine’s accession to NATO, resemble a collective Chamberlain.

I read an open letter in The Guardian newspaper by representatives from European and American universities, eloquently titled “The NATO alliance should not invite Ukraine to become a member.”

I understand that there may be different ideas about Ukraine’s membership in NATO. However, after reading this particular document, I am compelled to abandon the word “group” and instead use the word “crowd” — yes, a crowd of frightened nerds who tremble with fear, having encountered a bully in a “bad neighborhood.”

The issue lies not in their opposition to Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance but in their argumentation.

They deny that Ukraine joining NATO would deter Russia from invading Ukraine again, dismissing it as “wishful thinking.”

They believe that “Since Russia began invading Ukraine in 2014, NATO Allies have demonstrated through their actions that they do not believe the stakes of the conflict, while significant, justify the price of war. If Ukraine were to join NATO, Russia would have reason to doubt the credibility of NATO’s security guarantee – and would gain an opportunity to test and potentially rupture the alliance. The result could be a direct NATO-Russia war or the unraveling of NATO itself.”

They provide no explanation as to why Russia would have such reasons; it is merely a declaration, and that’s it.

The central theme running throughout the entire letter is the idea that one must not annoy Putin, because otherwise, he will continue to fight, and, God forbid, NATO itself will have to enter the battle.

They remind me of the collective Chamberlain who tried to appease Hitler, and everyone knows how that ended. They, too, are attempting to appease Putin, having failed to learn from not-so-ancient history.

Let me remind you that the war did not start on 24 February 2024, nor even in 2014. It began on 8 August 2008, when Russia attacked Georgia. This was the first blatant, open violation of the world order established after the Second World War.

I was in Georgia at that time and witnessed firsthand that after several days of fighting, the road to Tbilisi was open. However, the Russian army did not advance further. Why? Because US President George Bush Jr. sent a ship to the scene of the events, armed to defeat the entire Russian army. Realizing this, the Russians stopped.

However, instead of punishing the violator of international law, the next president, Barack Obama, arranged a reset with him — Hillary Clinton and Sergey Lavrov then solemnly pressed the symbolic button.

The occupied territories never returned to Georgia but remain de facto under Russian control. And Putin, like a true hooligan, understood that the West is weak and not ready for tough measures. Six years later, he occupied the Ukrainian Crimea.

Of course, the West then began to act, imposing sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, Russia was still considered a respected country, and business continued with it.

Germany even started a unique project – the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would make Europe even more dependent on Russian gas while allowing the aggressor country to increase its profits.

It was only after February 2022, when Putin launched a full-scale war against Ukraine, that the West began to seriously address this terrible challenge.

Even so, each step forward was taken with incredible tension, with the West drawing red lines for itself that could not be crossed. After long hesitation, it did cross them, providing Kyiv with more powerful weapons, and nothing more terrible than what had already happened in Ukraine occurred.

Thus, the authors of the letter fall into the same trap — they ask not how to punish the hooligan but how to appease him. They fail to understand, or are afraid to admit, that such a position will only encourage the bully to further aggression. They still haven’t grasped that Putin only understands power and stops when he sees a fist.

Perhaps, on the contrary, accepting Ukraine into NATO will show Putin that the civilized world wants to disregard his horror stories, and he will stop.

They do not mention that Ukraine once gave up nuclear weapons under the assurances of nuclear countries regarding Ukraine’s security and respect for its territorial integrity. They forgot that today, Ukraine protects not only itself but also their fear-trembling bodies and, with them, the entire democratic civilization.

They seem unconcerned that Ukrainians pay for this with their lives – not only soldiers but also civilians, including children, as was the case yesterday when a Russian rocket crushed a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

The less decisively the West acts, the more emboldened the terrorists become. Wasn’t the West hesitating after the Hamas attack on Israel? Isn’t it for the same reason that Iran fired an unprecedented number of missiles at Israel? Isn’t this why China has begun to look more and more persistently in Taiwan’s direction?

The authors of the letter express concern for the security of the United States. Is it not clear that by displaying weakness, the United States risks another 9/11?

Yuriy Lukanov is a Ukrainian journalist and author of books about Russia’s war against Ukraine, including The Press: how Russia destroyed media freedom in Crimea and Reporter Volkovsky. Contact him at vonakul (@) gmail.com

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