NATO’s adds Ukraine and Georgia to its Eastern flank
Late last week Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba traveled to Bucharest, Romania to join a meeting of what he called NATO’s Eastern flank: Poland, Romania and Turkey.
The Ukrainian foreign minister posted this on his Facebook page: “Greetings from Bucharest. Today, for the first time, Ukraine is taking part in the negotiations of the Romania, Poland, and Turkey triangle – NATO’s Eastern flank.”
The trilateral format was created at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Chicago in 2012.
This year Georgia as well as Ukraine participated. In Kuleba’s words: “Today, for the first time, they invited guests – Ukraine and Georgia – to join their format. And this isn’t just an invitation. It’s a political signal and concrete action to support Ukraine in a difficult moment.”
As reported in the Ukrainian press, the foreign ministers of the five states, all but Poland on the Black Sea, “discussed in detail the issues of regional security in the context of Russia’s aggressive actions, the prospects for NATO enlargement, and the support of Allied partners.”
The five nations – Turkey (85 million people), Ukraine (44 million), Poland (38 million), Romania (19 million) and Georgia (4 million) – have a total population of 190,000,000. If the other members of NATO’s eastern border are included – members Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and Enhanced Opportunities Partner Finland – the total is 209,000,000; far larger than Russia’s 144,000,000.
Ukraine and Turkey also recently held a meeting in Ankara of the Strategic Ukrainian-Turkish Council, with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey jointly pledging support for Ukraine seizing the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, Crimea being returned to the country also after having reunited with Russia in 2014, and Ukraine joining NATO and the European Union.
The Bucharest meeting attendees discussed plans for the first summit of the Crimean Platform in August. According to Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister, Emine Dzheppar, “the strategic goal of the Crimean Platform is the de-occupation of Crimea….”
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu confirmed his nation will dispatch a military unit to participate in a military parade in the Ukrainian capital, and he and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated the two countries are prepared to form a strategic partnership.
The main subjects of deliberation of the five foreign ministers were strengthening NATO presence in the region, Ukraine’s and Georgia’s prospects of joining NATO and the European Union and the aforementioned Crimean Platform.
Ukraine’s Kuleba, who was evidently the guest of honor at the meeting, added: “NATO’s key partners Ukraine and Georgia make a significant contribution to strengthening the Alliance’s eastern flank and maintaining stability in the Black Sea region. I am convinced that our unity is the most effective factor in deterring Russia and its deeply destructive actions in the region.”
In particular he called for increased cooperation between the navies of Ukraine and Georgia and those of the three NATO members in the Black Sea: Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
While meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister Georgia David Zalkaliani, his Ukrainian counterpart also asserted, “The membership of Ukraine and Georgia in the European Union and NATO is only a matter of time.”
The five foreign ministers condemned Russia over Donetsk, Lugansk, Crimea, the Kerch Strait, Abkhazia and South Ossetia (in regard to the latter two, “the borderisation in Georgia”). And they demanded that Crimea, and as a result the western bank of the Kerch Strait, be taken from Russia and given to Ukraine; that Russia betray its largely Russian-speaking allies in Donetsk and Lugansk, at least half a million of whom have Russian citizenship, to Ukraine; and that South Ossetia, which was invaded by Georgia in 2008, and Abkhazia, which narrowly avoided the same fate, be ceded to Georgia. Russia has military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it recognizes as independent nations, and maintains its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. As there appears no peaceful way of effecting the transitions listed above, what the five NATO members and partners have done is to chart a course for war; several wars.
The Black Sea appears to be the main battleground in NATO’s plans to confront Russia and redraw the political maps on its western and southern borders.