Sun. May 29th, 2022

NATO’s promise to one day recognize Ukraine in the kraal was an “ugly compromise” but was not to blame for the threat of conflict with Russia, the army’s alliance’s former secretary general said.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who declared NATO chief in 2008 that Ukraine would “become a member”, told the Financial Times that Vladimir Putin’s demands that the alliance abandon that promise were a false pretext for the Russian president’s “revanchist crusade”.

“He’s a guy whose world broke up in 1989,” de Hoop Scheffer said, referring to the turbulent events of that year, which included the fall of the Berlin Wall, which preceded the collapse of the Soviet Union. . “Whatever NATO would have agreed to. . . Putin would be the same Putin. “

He continued: “Now giving in to Ukraine is the wrong way to go. . . because no one can guarantee it [Putin’s] appetite will not grow. Putin wants much more than Ukraine and Georgia. Belarus, Moldova, Armenia: he wants his empire back. “

Russia claims that NATO breaking agreements concluded after the collapse of the Soviet Union not to extend to Moscow’s former satellite states. NATO has insisted that sovereign states have the right to choose their own foreign, defense and security policies.

Russia has demanded in negotiations this month that the US and NATO pledges never allow Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance, as part of a series of agreements they say are required to protect their security. The Kremlin regards the absorption of Ukraine as the red line that the US-led alliance should never cross.

Moscow has stationed more than 106,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and threatened a “military technical” response if those demands are ignored.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (left) with then US President George W Bush in 2007 © AP

NATO’s Ukraine pledge, given at a stormy summit in Bucharest, represented a hefty consolation to supporters of Kyiv’s membership – led by then-US President George Bush – who were defeated in an attempt to forge the alliance get to agree on the start of the country’s formal admission procedure.

“In retrospect, if I look back on this now, a reaffirmation of the open door policy for NATO would have been preferable. . . but it is now easy to say, “said de Hoof Scheffer, a former Dutch foreign minister.

“NATO is in trouble because we told Ukraine you can enter the house, but you are not allowed on the porch,” he continued. “Compromises are ugly. . . and NATO has been living with that compromise ever since. “

In talks with Russia this month, the US and NATO strongly rejected Moscow’s request, saying it violated one of the alliance’s founding principles.

While supporting that view, de Hoof Scheffer said that Kiev did not in fact have any prospect of membership due to the same opposition that existed in 2008.

“For the foreseeable and unpredictable future, they will not become a NATO member. “And I think the whole group around that table in Bucharest knew that,” he said. “It was already clear in the eyes of the opponents by then [of Ukraine’s membership] it was until hell froze. There was no time limit at all. ”

“[Putin] was obviously furious about the wording, ”remembers de Hoop Scheffer. “Although he then, and until now, knows very well. . . that NATO and the Americans will never wage war with Russia over Ukraine. “

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