Defense, Power & Security, Global Governance, Russia , United States How NATO Can Help Ukraine Deter Russian Aggression

November 7, 2021
By Alexander Vershbow | The National Interest

Seven years after illegally annexing Crimea and launching a semi-covert proxy war in eastern UkraineRussia continues to hold Ukraine’s security hostage. Although Ukraine’s armed forces have held the line in occupied Donbas despite incessant Russian shelling and sniper attacks, deterrence has become increasingly tenuous during 2021. Since the spring, President Vladimir Putin has maintained 100,000 or more troops along Ukraine's borders and in occupied Crimea, while the Russian navy has been aggressively challenging freedom of navigation in the Black and Azov Seas. Russia now also deploys significant ground forces in Belarus along Ukraine’s previously quiet northern border, as the discredited dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko has had to accede to Moscow’s demands in order to survive.

The best solution for Ukraine, fast-tracking its membership in NATO and giving it the added protection of an Article 5 guarantee—is not in the cards for the foreseeable future. Putin has declared NATO membership a red line, and most NATO allies are not prepared to challenge that anytime soon, not even to take the preliminary, procedural step of granting Ukraine a Membership Action Plan (MAP). The latest example of this was the rebuff given to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy by President Biden at their White House meeting in September.  

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