No “Moscow Maidan”? US puts further NATO expansion on ice.

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Douglas Lute, US Ambassador to NATO


in Junge, April 27, 2016
Translated by from German by Tom Winter, April 26, 2016*

Geopolitics can be funny. Latest instance: US ambassador to NATO, Douglas Lute, at a lectern in London** stated that there was no room for the expansion of NATO into Georgia and Ukraine for the foreseeable future because – and here’s the joke: The pact would not want to risk Russia being further destabilized. 

In Moscow at this there may have been tears of emotion.

Finally, the truth is rather different: Russia has made it clear in many ways to the US that it will not tolerate such a move and that it is just not understood in the “steady decline,”*** that Douglas Lute spoke of. 

This went from the demonstration of modern weapons systems in use across Syria to the “provocative” overflights of Russian interceptors on the US warship that was cruising around a few kilometers from Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea. 

The “right to free passage” of its warships, which the US claims, surely mirrors its claim to world power, but it is exactly this point that always raises the question of whether each different means of emphasizing this, is actually suited to the purpose. And as it turns out: The US does not need NATO membership for Ukraine or Georgia to maintain this claim.

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In fact the possibility is still open for them to to close a bilateral military alliance with Kiev outside of NATO, as with Israel. This is the dream of the Poroshenko regime and would have rather simpler requirements to meet than joining NATO would have. Joining NATO would presuppose unanimity, and would be subject to the condition that the candidate country has no outstanding border disputes. Kiev could therefore, if NATO takes its statutes seriously, accede only if it has waived the Crimea. 

But this is far too beautiful an excuse for Washington to keep the conflict with Russia simmering over a low flame, and to keep the Europeans in the penalty box [i.e. with the self-wounding anti-Russia sanctions –tr].

On the other hand, the US certainly has to think twice about whether they really want to risk a major conflict with Russia over Ukraine. And really it is the US, not their European “allies” that would not be bound by such a bilateral pact. That would contradict the American tendency to war through proxies.

Full assessment of the US diplomat’s declaration is yet to come. But for all that the United States intends to upgrade and schedule within the existing NATO that doesn’t go past the political halo, there will be, after all, be no extension.

That leaves Lutes’ concern over Russia’s stability. Is it a signal to dispense with a “Moscow Maidan” to overthrow Vladimir Putin? 

Or is it the realization that any Russian “color revolution” in the foreseeable future has no chance anyway? The question remains open for the time being.
*Sure looks like I translated it before it was written! But Germany is 7 hours — in this case, a day on the calendar — ahead of Nebraska.

**At the Aspen Security Forum in London.

***This feature is Lauterbach’s analysis of a presentation Douglas Lute made on April 22. 

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