By Patrick Buchanan
December 07, 202:
Information Clearing House
-- Either the U.S.
and NATO provide us with "legal guarantees"
that Ukraine will never join NATO or become
a base for weapons that can threaten Russia
— or we will go in and guarantee it
This is the message Russian President
Vladimir Putin is sending, backed by the
100,000 troops Russia has amassed on
At the Kremlin last week, Putin drew his
"The threat on our western borders is ...
rising, as we have said multiple times. ...
In our dialogue with the United States and
its allies, we will insist on developing
concrete agreements prohibiting any further
eastward expansion of NATO and the placement
there of weapons systems in the immediate
vicinity of Russian territory."
That comes close to an ultimatum. And
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
backhanded the President of Russia for
"It's only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies
that decide when Ukraine is ready to join
NATO. ... Russia has no veto, Russia has no
say, and Russia has no right to establish a
sphere of influence trying to control their
Yet, great powers have always established
spheres of influence. Chinese President Xi
Jinping claims virtually the entire South
China Sea that is bordered by half a dozen
nations. For 200 years, the United States
has declared a Monroe Doctrine that puts our
hemisphere off-limits to new colonizations.
Moreover, Putin wants to speak to the
real decider of the question as to whether
Ukraine joins NATO or receives weapons that
can threaten Russia. And the decider is not
Jens Stoltenberg but President Joe Biden.
In the missile crisis of 60 years ago,
the U.S., with its "quarantine" of Cuba and
strategic and tactical superiority in the
Caribbean, forced Nikita Khrushchev to pull
his intermediate-range ballistic missiles,
which could reach Washington, off of Fidel
If it did not do so, Moscow was led to
understand, we would use our air and naval
supremacy to destroy his missiles and send
in the Marines to finish the job.
Accepting a counteroffer for the U.S.
withdrawal of Jupiter missiles from Turkey,
Khrushchev complied with President John F.
Kennedy's demand. Russia's missiles came
out. And Kennedy was seen as having won a
Cold War victory.
Now it is we who are being told to comply
with Russia's demands in Ukraine, or Russia
will go in to Ukraine and neutralize the
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When the Warsaw Pact collapsed and the
USSR came apart three decades ago, Russia
withdrew all of its military forces from
Central and Eastern Europe. Moscow believed
it had an agreed-upon understanding with the
Under the deal, the two Germanys would be
reunited. Russian troops would be removed
from East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia,
Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. And there
would be no NATO expansion into Eastern
If America made that commitment, it was a
promise broken. For, within 20 years, NATO
had brought every Warsaw Pact nation into
the alliance along with the former Soviet
republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Neocons and Republican hawks such as the
late John McCain sought to bring Ukraine and
two other ex-Soviet republics, Georgia and
Moldova, into NATO.
Putin, who served in the KGB in the late
Soviet era and calls the breakup of the USSR
the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of
the 20th century, is now saying: Enough is
Translation: "Thus far and no further!
Ukraine is not going to be a member of NATO
or a military ally and partner of the United
States, nor a base for weapons that can
strike Russia in minutes. For us, that
crosses a red line. And if NATO proceeds
with arming Ukraine for conflict with
Russia, we reserve the right to act first.
Finlandize Ukraine, or we will!"
The problem for Biden?
In Ukraine and in Georgia, as we saw in
the 2008 war, Russia has the tactical and
strategic superiority we had in 1962 in
Cuba. Moreover, while Ukraine is vital to
Russia, it has never been vital to us.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt
recognized Joseph Stalin's USSR in 1933,
Moscow was engaged in the forced
collectivization of the farms of Ukraine,
which had caused a famine and the deaths of
millions. We Americans did nothing to stop
During the Cold War, America never
insisted on the independence of Ukraine.
Though we celebrated when the Baltic states
and Ukraine broke free of Moscow, we never
regarded their independence as vital
interests for which America should be
willing to go to war.
A U.S. war with Russia over Ukraine would
be a disaster for all three nations. Nor
could the U.S. indefinitely guarantee the
independence of a country 5,000 miles away
that shares not only a lengthy border with
Mother Russia but also a history, language,
religion, ethnicity and culture.
Forced to choose between accepting
Russia's demand that NATO stay out of
Ukraine and Russia going in, the U.S. is not
going to war.
Biden should tell Putin: The U.S. will
not be issuing any NATO war guarantees to
fight for Ukraine.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of
"Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That
Made and Broke a President and Divided
America Forever." To find out more about
Patrick Buchanan and read features by other
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