Recent press releases from the White House, the Defense Department and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization uniformly communicate the message that the U.S. and NATO are willing, and perhaps are preparing, to enter into armed conflict with Russia over their joint client regime in Ukraine.
On April 1 U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Andrii Taran, in which he “reaffirmed unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.” The last expression means joining NATO, first, and the European Union, second (as has occurred with all thirteen NATO members inducted since 1999 that also joined the EU.) In the words of the Pentagon’s readout of the conversation, Austin also “condemned recent escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine….” The defense chief also “reiterated the U.S. commitment to building the capacity of Ukraine’s forces to defend more effectively against Russian aggression.”
Austin recalled that the U.S. has provided Ukraine with over $2 billion in military and security assistance since the American-engineered violent uprising in the nation seven years ago that resulted in the ouster of the legally-elected and internationally-recognized government of Viktor Yanukovych and war in the Donbas region. Austin also confirmed a recent $125 million package from the Pentagon to “enhance the lethality, command and control, and situational awareness of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.”
When the head of the mightiest military organization in the world, one which outspends Russia on defense more than ten times, speaks of a key political and military client regime – and one in a nation moreover that has enriched the family of the current U.S. president – as the victim of military aggression, the inevitable corollaries of his pronouncement are not hard to divine.
The following day President Joe Biden (or so it was reported) spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea.” Biden reportedly spoke of intensifying the strategic partnership between the two states and spoke of reforms – to repeat, Biden spoke of reforms in Ukraine – that are “central to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.” That is, to becoming a full member of NATO.
The same day Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for an “urgent American involvement in the de-occupation of (Donbas) and Crimea” in a newspaper interview.
On April 1 NATO itself joined the chorus of Western denunciations of Russia, with an alliance official stating, “Russia’s destabilising actions undermine efforts to de-escalate tensions,” in the Donbas, adding, “Allies shared their concerns about Russia’s recent large scale military activities in and around Ukraine.” The “in Ukraine” reference was no doubt concerning Crimea, and the “around Ukraine” one relating to Russian troop movements within Russia itself. Given the fact that the Ukrainian government has been waging war for seven years in Donetsk and Lugansk, which border Russia, and that Russian citizens have been killed and wounded by Ukrainian shelling across the border into Russia, would seem to justify Russian troop movements given the recent escalation of hostilities in the region.
U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has raised its alert status to the highest level. EUCOM is one of six geographical unified (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard) combatant commands the Pentagon employs to divide up the surface of the world. It shares its top commander with NATO.
In a recent Ukrainian television interview the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Ruslan Khomchak, affirmed that the nation’s armed forces are fully operational for a possible war, able to “protect the territorial integrity and independence of our state.”
That’s true of any army, of course, but Khomchak was more specific: “To accomplish this task, we must be ready to act both offensively and defensively and to carry out maneuvers. Of course we are preparing for the offensive….We have experience in warfare in eastern Ukraine.” Seven years of it in fact.
On February 8, President Zelensky approved a plan to admit foreign troops into Ukraine in 2021 to take part in several multinational military exercises led by the U.S. and other NATO nations, including the U.S.-led exercises Rapid Trident 2021 and Sea Breeze 2021, the British-Ukrainian Cossack Mace 2021 and Warrior Watcher 2021 exercises, the Romanian-Ukrainian Riverine 2021 exercise, and the Polish-Ukrainian Three Swords 2021 and Silver Sabre 2021 war games.
He also recently approved Ukraine’s new military strategy, which not surprisingly emphasizes the subjugation of Donetsk and Lugansk and even Crimea. All-out assaults against the first two would probably provoke a war with Russia; an attack on the third would make it inevitable.
NATO is mentioned 19 times in the document, which speaks of an impending war with Donetsk and Lugansk, and by inference with Russia, in which Ukraine would be provided “the help of the international community on terms favorable to Ukraine.”
More pointedly it mentions depending on “the political, economic and military support of Ukraine by the international community in its geopolitical confrontation with the Russian Federation.” The new military strategy also speaks of Ukraine becoming involved in a war between NATO and Russia in which Ukraine “will be drawn into an international armed conflict, especially between nuclear-armed states.”
The Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine advocated by Biden and Austin would make Ukraine’s participation in a war between the world’s two major nuclear powers inevitable. It might also make Ukraine the main battleground in such a war.