An older man in a suit speaking at a podium in front of two flags.

NATO Secretary General Rasmussen

In response to the crisis in Ukraine – partly caused by US/EU actions – NATO will be moving forces east to countries bordering Russia in a move sure to upset Moscow. NATO officials also said they would be helping boost the capability of the Ukrainian military to fight separatists in East Ukraine making the proxy war between Russia and the US/EU all but official.

A further agitation to Russia will be the attendance of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko at a NATO summit in Cardiff where Poroshenko will be the only non-NATO member head of state. The meeting will focus on NATO assistance to Ukraine both economic and military. The NATO-Ukraine summit is set for next week.

Whether or not Ukraine will ask to join NATO – a move that could start a hot war between NATO and Russia -  is unknown, though Finnish President Sauli Niinistoe said Finland was considering joining NATO after Russia “violated border laws.”

Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general…

Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamouring for a stronger Nato presence in the region. They have criticised what they see as tokenism in the alliance’s response so far. But the issue of permanent Nato bases in east Europe is divisive. The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a Nato official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia.

If there is any reasonable take away from the events of the last few months in Ukraine it is that Russia is not backing down. As has been noted time and again by analysts Ukraine is much more important to Russia than it is to the US and EU. In the final analysis, if Russia wants to take Ukraine the West can’t stop them without risking real interests.

Given that reality, what is the point of the NATO provocation? One explanation that would do the US/EU the courtesy of being rational is that this NATO push is actually a tacit admission that Ukraine can not be absorbed by the EU but that Russia can go no further. A new line would be drawn that starts on the borders of Ukraine rather than inside Germany. In other words, containment is back.

Otherwise, this announcement is beyond reckless and risks starting an extremely dangerous and, thanks to nuclear weapons, existential war.

Photo by Department of Defense under public domain.