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Ukraine Will Never Become NATO Member, US Military Analyst Says

© AP Photo / Pavlo PalamarchukSoldiers take part in an exercise at the Yavoriv military training ground, close to Lvov, Western Ukraine, Friday, Sept 24, 2021. Ukraine, the US, and other NATO countries continue joint military drills in Western Ukraine presenting offensive exercises in town-like surroundings with tanks and other military vehicles involved.
Soldiers take part in an exercise at the Yavoriv military training ground, close to Lvov, Western Ukraine, Friday, Sept 24, 2021. Ukraine, the US, and other NATO countries continue joint military drills in Western Ukraine presenting offensive exercises in town-like surroundings with tanks and other military vehicles involved.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2022
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Following the launch of Russia's military operation in Ukraine on February 24, the United States and its NATO allies moved to provide significant military and financial assistance to Kiev while at the same time trying hard to avoid a direct confrontation with Moscow.
On November 29 and 30, foreign ministers of the NATO member states gathered in Bucharest to discuss various issues concerning the military alliance, including the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine.
Following the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg should now focus its efforts on preserving its sovereignty rather than on joining the alliance.
During an interview with Sputnik, military analyst and former US Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter, who served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, offered his thoughts on this matter along with other NATO's actions related to the Ukrainian crisis.
Sputnik: The main task for Ukraine now is to remain as an independent state, not to join NATO, Stoltenberg said today. Just a day before, he claimed that NATO’s "door is open" for Ukraine - why such a dubious rhetoric?
Scott Ritter: NATO and NATO leadership is in a flux right now. They are prisoners of their own bad policy, they are confronted with the reality of the consequences of the policy to invite Ukraine to be a member of NATO to begin with and then to double down after the Maidan events of 2014, to double down on providing Ukraine with a military capability to challenge Russia not only in the Donbass, but also Crimea, which militarized this conflict. And then their decision to provide Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars-worth of military and financial assistance. And now Ukraine is paying the price. There is a growing recognition among NATO members that not only is Ukraine losing the war, Ukraine has lost the war and with it, NATO has lost the war. So you're seeing people scrambling. NATO's not capable of being that honest with itself. But you're seeing them redefine what the acceptable parameters are from the NATO perspective. But the interesting thing is lacking from Stoltenberg's presentation.
Sputnik: Do you believe there's any split among NATO members with regard to Ukraine's possible membership?
Scott Ritter: Ukraine will never be a member of NATO, ever. Never. Anytime Stoltenberg or anybody alludes to this, it's purely a political point. They're trying to score political points against Russia by saying that the door is always open, that Russia doesn't get to determine who can or cannot be a member of NATO, that there's no such thing as a Russian sphere of influence. That's why they said that. But Russia's proving the exact opposite, that Ukraine is in its sphere of influence and Russia will dictate the future direction of Ukraine. And the fact is, if this war continues, Ukraine will not be a viable sovereign state at the conclusion of the conflict. And that's NATO's fault.
Sputnik: Stoltenberg said today that Ukraine needs long-range missiles while the US has so far been reluctant to provide Kiev with this sort of weapons - why such a U-turn? If Russian soil is affected, what would be the consequences?
Scott Ritter: As an outsider, it's very difficult for me to say with 100% certainty what the consequences would be from the Russian perspective. Russia has said that this would be a game changing undertaking by NATO and that Russia would, for instance, take out decision making centers. And the implication was these decision making centers may extend beyond the borders of Ukraine. That would be a dramatic escalation. But Russia has made it clear from even before the initiation of the special military operation in repeated dialogs with the United States that they would not tolerate any long-range missiles being based in Ukraine, missiles that give Ukraine or NATO the potential to strike deep into the Russian homeland, that this would be a threat, perhaps even an existential threat to Russia. Those are dangerous words, because existential threat is one of the scenarios that allows Russia to consider the use of nuclear weapons.
Ukrainian recruits take part in a live fire training exercise at a military base with UK Armed Forces in Southern England - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2022
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So Stoltenberg is being grossly irresponsible here. First of all, if Ukraine were provided these weapons, it would not change the outcome. Ukraine is going to lose. Ukraine cannot win. There's no scenario any responsible military analyst can put forward that has Ukraine prevailing in this conflict. So all Stoltenberg would be doing is increasing the price that Ukraine and Ukrainian people would pay for the ongoing folly of NATO. And the good news is Jens Stoltenberg's voice doesn't matter. He doesn't count. He makes no decisions. He's a technocrat. The decision about the provision of long-range missiles to Ukraine is not a NATO decision. It's the decision of the nations that possess that technology. And right now, the only nation with that technology is the United States. The United States has made it clear they're not going to provide long-range missiles to Ukraine.
Sputnik: NATO allies have delivered generators and spare parts to help Ukraine rebuild its destroyed energy infrastructures - is it at all possible?
Scott Ritter: No. If if it was possible, then why build the infrastructure to begin with? Why not just supply an endless supply of generators. This is a bandaid put on a gaping chest wound. It doesn't even stop the bleeding. It's a political move. It's designed to create the appearance that NATO and the European Union are caring about the Ukrainian people. But how could you possibly care about the Ukrainian people when you've encouraged the conflict and brought this outcome to be. The reason why there is no electricity in Ukraine today is because NATO pushed Ukraine to confront Russia on the Donbass, on Crimea, on the very survival of ethnic Russians in the territory of Ukraine. This is why there's no electricity. And so I find it to be not only arrogance, but it's distasteful that NATO's now providing small generators to allow Ukrainians the ability to survive. When had they not pushed for the policy, the Ukrainians would be at home with energy, with a viable economy, with jobs, with a future, with a country that wasn't destroyed by war.
Sputnik: “Nato will continue to stand for Ukraine as long as it takes. We will not back down,” Stoltenberg said in a speech in Bucharest. The only way to get the right terms for a negotiation to begin would be for Ukraine to advance on the battlefield". What consequences do you expect from such an aggressive take?
Scott Ritter: First of all, it shows that Stoltenberg is totally detached from reality. He made similar statements about NATO's will to remain in Afghanistan. NATO would never leave Afghanistan. NATO was there to the completion of the mission. NATO would be there to defeat the forces of Islamic terror. NATO's gone. NATO's going to be gone from Ukraine. Ukraine is going to lose this war. And there's no amount of rhetoric that Stoltenberg can put out there that changes this outcome. Saying that there's going to be offensive action on the battlefield and actually delivering that means to accomplish that, are two totally different things. Ukraine's military has suffered egregious losses, and these losses cannot be readily replenished. Meanwhile, the Russians have minimized their losses, and they're in the process of finalizing the mobilization and deployment of upwards of 300,000 fresh troops into the theater of operation. It's not Ukraine that will be going on the offensive, it will be Russia. That will be an entirely different game.
Ukrainian soldiers move a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer into position to fire at Russian positions in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region Saturday, June 18, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.11.2022
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Sputnik: Why is the EU, against the backdrop of an economic and energy crisis, so persistent to continue the war no matter what?
Scott Ritter: The decisions being made by the EU are made by a political and economic elite who owe their current positions to a system that has Europe playing a subordinate role to the United States in terms of national security policy and national security priorities. It's the United States that drove NATO and the EU to this war in Ukraine. And these political and economic elites have tied themselves to this conflict. They cannot survive politically if they divorce themselves. So they are doubling down. But there is a difference between the decisions made by this ruling economic elite and the people of Europe who are paying the price for the folly of their elected and unelected officials. And I think sooner rather than later, the forces of democracy will make themselves heard in Europe as the people rise up through the electoral process and remove these tools of American foreign policy from their positions of authority inside Europe.
Sputnik: Can such a situation create a rift among the NATO members?
Scott Ritter: It already is. Anybody who believes that NATO's a unified organization has been studying the internal debates taking place in NATO. There's a deep divide over what to do with regard to Russia and Ukraine, what to do regarding sanctions. And if you dig deep into the individual sanction policies of the individual European nations, you will find that while they talked very tough before the microphone of public opinion, back in the shadows of their governing circles, they cut side deals. They have waivers. People who say we will never buy Russian energy are buying Russian energy. They just use a different vehicle to accomplish that task because at the end of the day, economic survival is the most important thing. And even the elected representatives in Europe who are giving voice to these hard policies understand what the reality is. That reality is that at the present time, Europe cannot survive without Russian energy.
Sputnik: At the same time Stoltenberg claimed that Ukraine's goal is to prevail - does this mean that NATO will continue to keep to its idea to fight with Russia until the last Ukrainian?
Scott Ritter: You know, Adolf Hitler's goal in late April of 1945 was to continue the fight, continue the struggle. But that didn't mean that Nazi Germany was going to survive much longer. Of course, President Zelensky and his inner circle claimed that their goal was to continue the struggle but their days are numbered. They have lost this war, and nothing NATO says or does change its outcome. Stoltenberg is a desperate European politician who is trapped by his own history of rhetorical flamboyance, where he has tied himself and Europe and NATO to a Ukrainian government that's literally on its last legs.
Sputnik: “The war in Ukraine demonstrated our dangerous dependency on Russian gas. This should also lead us to assess our dependencies on other authoritarian states. Not least China,” Stoltenberg said today. What does this mean practically, given that China is one of the EU's main trade partners?
Scott Ritter: It means nothing practically. Its empty words, empty rhetoric, which has become the trademark of Jens Stoltenberg. Europe has articulated that it wants a complete divorce with Russian energy. And yet behind the scenes in secrecy, European nations are buying the Russian energy because they can't live without it. The idea that Europe and its economy, especially an economy that is suffering as the European economy is now because of the consequences of sanctioning Russian energy, could somehow decouple itself from its largest trading partner and survive is ridiculous. This is like a parachutist having jumped out of the airplane, deciding they no longer needed their parachute if they were going to take it off and just take their chances. They're going to die.
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