In 2008, Ukraine applied for a NATO membership. Subsequently, President Putin spoke out against Ukraine’s membership in NATO stating that membership is prohibited under the updated Brezhnev Doctrine. The doctrine states that Ukraine can’t be a part of a membership which is larger than the number of states in the Warsaw Pact (the Warsaw Pact treaty of mutual defense and military aid signed by the Communist states under Soviet influence, in response to the admission of West Germany to NATO.). It also states a foreign threat to the Soviet Union is a threat to them all. Thus, any intervention is justified. In short this means Ukrainian membership in NATO is grounds for retaliation at larger scale, as it touches the Russian Border.
Following years of unrest between two nations, on the 14th of September 2020, President Zelenskyy approved Ukraine’s new National Security Strategy. This strategy provides for the development of the distinctive partnership with NATO with the aim of membership in NATO. Russia believes that a possible Ukrainian accession to NATO and NATO growth in general threaten its national security. Many neighboring countries have accused Putin of attempting to restore the Russian Empire (or Soviet Union – which was disbanded in 1991) by pursuing aggressive militaristic policies. This aggressive moved lead to Zelenskyy signature of a decree approving the de-occupation and reintegration of a temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. During this time, significant quantities of weapons and equipment from various regions of Russia, including as far away as Siberia, were transported towards the Russo-Ukrainian border and into Crimea. Following this, Putin published an essay that re-affirmed his view that Russians and Ukrainians were “one people”.
Subsequently, in late-January 2022, major Russian military units were relocated and deployed to Belarus under the previously planned joint military exercises to be held in February that year. Ukrainian and American officials believed that Russia attempted to use Belarus as a platform for an attack on Ukraine from the north, due to the close proximity of the Belarusian–Ukrainian border with the city of Kyiv. On February 20th, Belarus announced the continuation of the Allied Resolve 2022 military exercises, under the decision by Presidents Lukashenko and Putin. On the same day, several news outlets reported that US intelligence assessed that Russian commander had been given orders to proceed with the invasion. The invasion occurred four days after the assessment was released.
Currently, the Russo-Ukrainian war continues with no peaceful end in sight. Despite this, no country has come to help defend Ukraine. As Putin promised there will be retaliation against any country helping Ukraine. This invasion is a humanitarian disaster, and it is unjust. However, NATO nor anyone else has offered any military aid. It is true that Ukraine is not a NATO member, but it does raise a question about the importance of an organization that claims they are all about defending humanitarian rights. The situation could have been different if Ukraine were a NATO member. Similar to our current situation, the recent pandemic has shown EU, another organization similar to NATO, did not offer much help to Italy which was affected enormously.
The question now stands, given the fact that NATO has not come to Ukraine’s defense will they defend each other if Russia attacks, or will they turn on each other?
By Tina Barghi, Politics student