What Stoltenberg dances around, and not so deftly, is the reason the promises of full NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia made at the Bucharest summit in 2008 have not materialized. By no means him alone; the whole world parrots the line that both nations must implement certain vague or indefinite reforms, etc. (As though nations like Albania and Croatia did in 2009.)The simple truth of the matter was that for Ukraine to receive a Membership Action Plan and prepare for accession, the Russian Black Sea Fleet would have to be evicted from Sebastopol; similarly, for Georgia to join the global military bloc Commonwealth of Independent States-mandated Russian peacekeepers would have to be expelled from Abkhazia and South Ossetia and both would have to be reincorporated into Georgia.
The 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia and the next year’s replication of it in Ukraine, the Orange Revolution, as well as the so-called Revolution of Dignity in 2014 in the same nation were designed to lay the groundwork for meeting the real preconditions for NATO membership described above.
After Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia in 2008 and the coup in Ukraine in 2014, resulting in the return of Crimea to Russia, meeting NATO demands for membership would inevitably entail war with Russia.
Ministers addressed three issues:
Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine,
the actions by the regime in Belarus, and NATO’s leading role in arms control.
Any future Russian aggression against Ukraine would come at a high price.
And have serious political and economic consequences for Russia.
Ministers were clear that there must be no misunderstanding or miscalculation on NATO’s resolve.
We stand together to defend and protect all Allies.
We also addressed Belarus.
And the Lukashenko regime’s use of vulnerable people to put pressure on Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania.
This is cynical and inhumane.
And NATO ministers made clear that we stand in full solidarity with the Allies affected.
We represent 50% of the world’s GDP. And of course, it matters when NATO Allies discuss also the use of economic sanctions against the behaviour of Russia. And we have seen our resolve, and our willingness, and our ability to actually maintain, sustain such economic sanctions when needed.
Economic sanctions, financial sanctions, political reactions, but also as you have seen the readiness of NATO to protect and defend all Allies, as we have done with increased presence in eastern part of the Alliance.
Russia has used force before, against European neighbors: Georgia, Ukraine, and they had troop forces in Moldova.
I visited Odessa where NATO trainers, experts help them with building the naval capabilities of the Naval Academy. There are different kinds of support, and trust funds, and activities by NATO and NATO Allies to strengthen the armed forces of Ukraine.