The UKRINFORM website on Saturday featured a brief article on German ambassador to Ukraine, Anka Feldhusen, discussing the prospects of her host country becoming a NATO member.
Feldhusen has an extensive tenure in the country, having been attached to the German embassy there in various capacities from 1994-1997, 2009-2015 (during the U.S.-engineered coup in 2014) and in her current role from 2019 to the present.
She is cited asserting that one of the main benefits of NATO membership is being able to request Article 5 mutual military assistance. If approved, all other NATO members are obligated to enter the lists on behalf of the country asking for that intervention.
She offered this assessment:
“There are 30 countries cooperating in NATO, and this is a consensus organization….I think that Ukraine has very influential partners who support Ukraine’s ambitions to become a NATO member. But this will not happen tomorrow, because, as I said, it will be a political decision. NATO has always had problems with countries at war. Of course. Because one of the advantages of NATO is the fifth article of the Washington Treaty. And everyone is afraid to be in a direct war with Russia.”
Not everyone evidently, as her own comments substantiate. As Ukraine has for the past seven years attempted to depict itself as already being at war with Russia – in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the Donbass – and has accused Russia of occupying Ukrainian territories in those locales and in Crimea, the moment Ukraine joins NATO the latter would ipso facto be at war with Russia. That appears to be what the German envoy was alluding to.
Nevertheless, she added, the military bloc will continue to cooperate with Ukraine “on a daily basis” and will closely monitor events in and near what it claims to be its borders.
As with Georgia in 2008, NATO would prefer candidate states first resolve the issues of territorial disputes (or as Ukraine refers to Crimea, temporarily occupied territory) and foreign (meaning non-NATO) military personnel on its soil before becoming full members of the global military bloc. Otherwise, as seen above, NATO enter a war the moment the new member enters the alliance.
Whatever one thinks of Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea in 2014, for the U.S., NATO and the European Union to support Kiev’s contention that it is temporarily-occupied territory and demand its return to Ukraine is fraught with the highest degree of danger.
The moment Russia would vacate Crimea not only would the Russian Federation suffer the most humiliating, the most crushing defeat in its 30-year history, but its Black Sea Fleet would be evicted from Sevastopol and Russia be denied ready access to the Mediterranean Sea. Critics of Russia’s Crimean policy since 2014 don’t acknowledge that simple and indisputable fact.
In that scenario it’s not hard to visualize the naval base at Sevastopol being turned over to the U.S. Sixth Fleet and the Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. Indeed, that seems the inescapable correlate of Russia being compelled to vacate Crimea.
The spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, responded to the comments of the German ambassador to Ukraine with these comments of her own:
“According to the German ambassador, everyone is afraid of a direct war with Russia. So, this is about fear. However, Russia’s national policy, both domestic and external, is based not on the fear of a war with anyone but on a principal choice in favor of peace and maintaining it. Feel the difference, as the saying goes.”
Her interpretation of the German’s comments appear to indicate that even in evoking the danger of a direct war with Russia she was casting the onus of responsibility for such a catastrophe on Russia.
In an all-too-rare display of political backbone, Zakharova added this indictment against the real malefactor in the tragedy:
“NATO is unscrupulous. By its own hands, using ambassadors and foreign ministers, they encouraged Maidans [deadly “color revolution” uprisings] in Ukraine and led the country to the full loss of its sovereignty and the condition of half-disintegration, and rendered the state administration lifeless, set Ukrainians against each other and their own history, and now they recall that they have some legal restrictions. They should have remembered about rights and ethics when they deployed their special services in Ukraine’s ministries and agencies, designed and sponsored Maidans and trained militants.”
Would that the Russian Foreign Ministry had spoken in candid language like that seven years ago.
The spokeswoman also addressed the 32-nation Sea Breeze wars games to be co-hosted by the U.S. and Ukraine in the Black Sea starting tomorrow with these no less uncompromising words:
“We understand very well that these drills have two global goals. The first one is endless destabilization along the Russian border. This is a provocation for the sake of a provocation, they are trying to get a response. And there needs to be a response, because this is a sovereign state, a sovereign border. To constantly make this response come off as aggressive actions is provocative activity.
“The second [goal] is to transport various types of equipment and arms to Ukrainian territory and leave them there.”
The German ambassador to Ukraine was being less than forthcoming when she spoke of NATO being in direct war with Russia only if Ukraine joined the bloc; NATO is daily inching closer to such a war even preceding that eventuality.