Friday, April 11, 2008

One More Reason for NATO To Expand

Building on my post from last week that argued the US and NATO should, if the choice is between the two, choose to expand NATO with the inclusion of Ukraine and Georgia rather than develop and deploy an anti-ballistic missile defense system in Eastern Europe. One reason for NATO expansion was, I wrote, the fact that "Russia has demonstrated a disturbing willingness to involve itself in the affairs of its former partners."

Today, we have more evidence of that disturbing willingness that reinforces the need to expand NATO up to the Russian border. According to a Reuters report:
Russia will take military and other steps along its borders if ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia join NATO, Russian news agencies quoted the armed forces' chief of staff as saying on Friday.

"Russia will take steps aimed at ensuring its interests along its borders," the agencies quoted General Yuri Baluyevsky as saying. "These will not only be military steps, but also steps of a different nature," he said, without giving details.

Such a reaction from Russia is, at best, inappropriate and, at worst, dangerous and bellicose. Russia does have legitimate security needs and concerns. But Russia is no longer the superpower that was the USSR, and Russian legitimate security needs no longer should be understood to include a sphere of influence over other sovereign states. During the Cold War, it was Soviet military and political might that forced the US and NATO to recognize and respect Soviet authority over Eastern and Central Europe. But the Cold War is no more. Ukraine and Georgia are free to pursue their own security needs as they see fit.

Such belligerent declarations from Russia only demonstrate the need to expand the club of democratic states and bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. The more countries that are bound together by political and military ties, the less likely is the possibility of interstate war. Wounded Russian pride or faded memories of the glory days of the USSR should not be allowed to prevent the expansion of NATO.

1 comment:

Todd said...

There's not a country in the eastern bloc that doesn't consider Russia a potential aggressor - however distant in the future. Weaker though it may be, it's still strong enough to throw a pretty scary tantrum.

Now is also a strange time for NATO expansion from another perspective. It's weakened due to American unilateralism and strained by the never-ending conflict in Afghanistan.