The Best Choice for Russia and NATO

From Ukrainian intelligence reports, Russia has 127,000 troops stationed near the Ukrainian border. Not only the army, Russia then sent tanks to tactical missiles. The US side says that Russia will carry out an attack in February in 2022. This is based on the preparations that Russia has made through sending troops to withdraw its ambassador in Kiev. The West does not want a similar incident in 2014 to repeat itself.

The heating up of Russia’s relations with Ukraine began with Putin who considered the West to have violated the previous agreement regarding the expansion of the membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), on December 23, 2021, Putin said, “We remember, as I have mentioned many times before and as you know. very well, how you promised us in the 1990s that (NATO) would not move an inch to the East. You cheated us shamelessly: there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and now the weapons systems I mentioned have been deployed in Romania and deployment has recently begun in Poland.”

Russia had a fairly strong influence on Ukrainian politics during the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych has close relations with Putin, Putin managed to prevent Ukraine from getting closer to Europe through delaying ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and providing Ukraine with loan assistance. However, being impeached by Yanukovych changed everything. Ukraine began to open up with Europe by establishing intense communication with the European Union and NATO.

On the other hand, Biden in an interview at the White House on January 31, 2022 gave a statement and the US position on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, “If instead Russia chooses to walk away from diplomacy and attack Ukraine, Russia will bear the responsibility, and it will face swift and severe consequences,” This statement further heated tensions between the West and Russia.

The importance of Ukraine for Russia

Ukraine has significance for Russia, Ukraine was part of a satellite state of the Soviet Union from 1950 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. From the ethnic aspect, the Center for Economic and Political Studies originating from Ukraine, namely the Razumkov Center , conducted a survey in 2017 and shows data that 6% of Ukrainians admit that they have Russian ancestry. And 17% of Ukrainians speak Ukrainian and Russian as their main languages.

Ukraine’s position is a buffer for Russia’s security. If Ukraine joins NATO, then NATO is automatically at Russia’s doorstep and is a hard slap for Russia. Therefore Ukraine is a fixed price for Russia. However, this threat has actually been present since 1992, NATO is actively expanding into Eastern Europe which is a former satellite country of the Soviet Union. This is evidenced by Estonia, Latvia, Norway which has a border with Russia and has become a member of NATO.

The US played a key role in pushing Ukraine to join NATO. The US made efforts to persuade Ukraine to be accepted into NATO. However, strong protests were raised by France, Germany and Russia. For France and Germany, Ukraine is not worthy to join NATO because of domestic conditions that show signs of authoritarianism that are getting stronger. As for Russia this is a disaster for its security.

This effort continued through the Biden administration. US Secretary of State Antony in a telephone call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on February 1, 2021, stated that the US will continue to maintain its commitments to its Eastern European ally through economic and military assistance. This commitment is evidenced through the sale of weapons to Ukraine with a value of $ 125 million. Biden wants to show the world and Russia in particular, that Ukraine is not alone and that Russia’s annexation is a big mistake.

Support from the International Community

On the other hand, Yalta European Strategy revealed very interesting study results, from interviews in six countries namely the US, UK, France, Germany, Canada and Poland involving 3600 correspondents, showing that the people in these six countries support diplomatic and military efforts. what the West did to Ukraine. Furthermore, 53% of respondents think that Ukraine is an ally of the West because it shares the same values. And 85% want the allies not to sacrifice Ukraine to Russia. In this case, they do not want the allies to build strategic relations with Russia because as a result Ukraine’s position will be threatened.

This proves that the international community considers Russia a threat to the West. However, this data also shows that open war is increasingly unavoidable given the considerable support from the community.

Looking Far Back

If you look back, a similar event occurred in 1962. The tensions of the Cold War led by the US and the Soviet Union led the two countries to take precautionary measures against each other. This conflict began when the US sabotaged and sponsored the Invasion of the Bay of Pigs in 1961. The Soviet Union responded strongly to this action, in 1962 the Soviet Union secretly installed its missiles in Cuba as a form of prevention if one day the US invaded again. Its ally is Cuba. This is a real threat to the US because the distance from Havana to Florida is only 332 miles.

This conflict ended at the negotiating table with the removal of the Soviet Union’s missiles in Cuba. However, on the condition that the US does the same, namely removing its missiles in Turkey and Italy, and promising not to attack Cuba. One of the worst possible consequences of the Russian attack on Ukraine is to trigger similar events in different places. China, which has a similar problem with Taiwan, has perfect momentum. If this annexation happens then the West will focus on Ukraine and at that time China will act.

Best efforts for both parties

Ukraina should remain neutral between the West and Russia. Although there is no written agreement that requires Ukraine to remain neutral, the neutral option is the best option. Ukraine joining NATO will only make the situation worse, Russia will have legality for an attack to be carried out on Ukraine under the pretext of a precautionary measure. Russia is aware that an attack on Ukraine will result in military and economic sanctions that will be imposed by the West. However, if you let Ukraine get closer to the West, it will only be a matter of time before Russia will be surrounded.

Gufron Gozali
Gufron Gozali
Gufron Gozali is a junior research assistant from the Islamic University of Indonesia, whose research focuses on the United States and the Middle East.