11 June 2014, 21:43

Shadow NATO returns to Ukraine

Shadow NATO returns to Ukraine

The steady march of NATO eastwards is about to take on a new face, as 'Shadow NATO' is threatening to return to Ukraine in the coming months. The military organization cannot admit new members that have unresolved territorial disputes (Poroshenko claims that he will never recognize the reunification of Crimea with Russia), but there are indirect ways of going around this stipulation. Using Poroshenko as a Western stooge, NATO can direct him to enter into a de-facto military defense alliance with the organization.

In fact, this already seems to be the direction that Ukraine is moving into, especially when one analyzes Poroshenko's inauguration statements about replacing the Budapest Memorandum. NATO is thus proving that although it is currently impossible to incorporate Ukraine via legal means, it will do so in form until it becomes accepted as fact.

NATO activity in Eastern Europe

The Ukrainian Crisis has already brought about a renewed surge in NATO activity along Russia's western security perimeter. Poland and the 'Baltic Brothers' (so quipped because they follow the exact same anti-Russian foreign policy) had begged for more NATO (and especially US) forces in their countries, and their wish has recently been somewhat granted. By the end of April, the US announced that it would send upwards of 600 troops to Poland and the Baltics to participate in military drills, and just this month, NATO launched dual war games in the region. On the southern front, the US Secretary of Defense announced his intentions to continue the maritime militarization of the Black Sea. Looking forward, Obama declared his willingness to invest $1 billion in the region in order to beef up its military presence there. Despite plans for US troop rotations in Poland (basically a military base without being called so or legally treated as such), Poland is not content and is now agitating for a permanent NATO base to be deployed in the country. Such a base near the Ukrainian or Belarussian border, for example, would become a significant NATO asset that may even strategically become the Camp Bondsteel of the East.

US/NATO activity in Ukraine

As part of its strategic offensive against Russian interests in Eastern Europe, the US has also now taken up training and arming the Ukrainian junta. Up until June, the US had already provided $23 million in non-lethal assistance to the authorities in Kiev. It now wants to give $5 million in "body armor, night-vision goggles and communication equipment", and since such "non-lethal" assistance enhances the killing capabilities of the Ukrainian military and National Guard, it can only be surmised that it is insidiously aimed against the pro-federalization protesters in Donbass. To make the "aid" even more effective, US military advisors are also being deployed to the country, to say nothing of CIA and FBI agents already active in Kiev. On top of everything, another $48 million will be sent by Washington to Kiev because "the United States is committed to supporting Ukraine's democratic reforms, economic development, and sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Rapid Trident 2014

The most significant upcoming event in Ukraine is the Rapid Trident NATO exercises to be held in July. 1,300 troops from 12 countries (notably including the US, UK, and Poland) will be active in Lvov, the purpose of which will be "to help the Ukrainian military improve its troops and weapons operability with NATO forces." Despite having trained together in the past for such interoperability (which increases the cohesiveness of joint military operations), doing so under today's tension-filled circumstances is clearly an aggressive and worrying move by NATO. It is obvious that NATO and Kiev are working hand-in-hand to de-facto closer integrate the Ukrainian military under Brussels' (in reality, Washington's) command. Additionally, because of the multitudes of Western mercenaries already active in the country, there could even be the possibility of NATO training with private military companies. The primary concern here is that once NATO enters Ukraine in July, it may never officially leave, and the upcoming September summit in Wales may institutionalize this presence in one form or another.

The Budapest backdoor to NATO

Dangerously raising the stakes, Ukraine may even be de-facto placed under NATO's security umbrella. This would increase the risk of a direct NATO-Russian confrontation if Russia decides upon a humanitarian intervention in Donbass. Besides, Russia believes that Ukraine joining NATO would cross a red line for its national security. At the same time, however, the opportunity for an unofficial backdoor to NATO has just opened up with Poroshenko's latest statements about revising the Budapest Memorandum.

During his inauguration speech, speaking about a replacement for the Budapest Memorandum that he wants to spearhead, Poroshenko said that "such an agreement should provide reliable guarantees of peace and security, including military support in case of a threat to our territorial integrity." That same day, RT reports that Secretary General of NATO "Rasmussen [said] that NATO "stands firm" in support for "Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity" and that the alliance "looks forward to working with President Poroshenko." This must not be isolated from the US' financing and military assistance to the Ukrainian regime, its previous statements about upholding Ukraine's "sovereignty and territorial integrity", Poroshenko's kooky claims to Crimea, and the enhanced NATO activity in Eastern Europe.

If Poroshenko replaces the Budapest Memorandum with a security guarantee from NATO, then Ukraine will be placed under the West's nuclear umbrella and de-facto become a shadow member of the alliance.

This is extremely likely, especially considering that the organization has already demonstrated its military resolve (the Baltic war games) and intent (the US and NATO's statements) to do so. Being a bastard child of Western strategy, de-facto NATO membership for Ukraine would be something more elusive than legal membership. Therefore, Russia's red line may become a diluted pink, making it impossible to predict how Moscow will react.

Concluding Thoughts

The entire development resembles a game of chicken, with each side seeing who will blink first and call the other's bluff. Russia has serious security concerns with Ukraine entering into NATO, but as a shadow member, would NATO bestow the same benefits on to it as it does its real members?

The following three uncertainties define this game of chicken:

1. Will Russia act to prevent Ukraine's shadow integration into NATO?

2. If de-facto integrated into NATO, will the organization militarily defend Ukraine in the event of direct hostilities with Russia?

3. Will Ukraine base NATO anti-missile defense infrastructure on its territory, and if so, how will Russia react and will NATO defend Ukraine (if it is a shadow member by this point)?

This is the forthcoming chain of events that must be analyzed in order to gauge Ukraine's progress in becoming a shadow member of NATO:

1. The results of the July 2014 NATO Rapid Trident exercises in Western Ukraine (what transpires, do NATO infrastructure and/or troops remain in Ukraine?)

2. The outcome of the September 2014 NATO summit in Wales (how deep does NATO commit itself to Eastern Europe, are any de-facto arrangements made with Ukraine?)

3. What does the new Budapest Memorandum look like and to what extent is NATO the guarantor of Ukraine's "sovereignty and territorial integrity"?

4. To what degree will Ukraine cooperate with NATO, and will anti-missile defense units be placed within the country?

As the Ukrainian Crisis drags into its seventh month, it appears as though Ukraine may be on the cusp of de-facto NATO membership through a revised Budapest Memorandum. Such a development would be a watershed event in the post-1991 global security architecture, and accordingly, Russia would be pressed to respond in one way or another to this groundbreaking fulfilment of one of Brzezinski's most adroit Grand Chessboard moves.

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