Seeking security coalitions – Ukraine

May 29, 2014

Way back on 31 March 2013, and under very different circumstances, I mentioned the 2007 plan to form a joint Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian Brigade, an idea that had then done little more than gather dust since its conception.

Needless to say, this brigade is once again being mentioned for very different reasons now that The Kremlin has unilaterally terminated the Helsinki Final Act 1975 by the annexation of Crimea.  That Act cannot be resuscitated for no neighbouring nation is ever going to fully trust The Kremlin to adhere to any security agreements old or new again under its current management.

With Prime Minister Medvedev last week claiming the Budapest Memorandum was not obliging of Russia to guarantee Ukrainian territorial sovereignty (despite being a guarantor), such lack of faith is quite understandable.

The assumption by many that two NATO nations creating a brigade with a non-NATO nation would unnecessarily drag NATO into a confrontation with an aggressor against Ukraine is perhaps something of a leap – despite initial appearances.  NATO, like the EU, has no control over the foreign policy of its members – and its members can and do act unilaterally in the militarily sphere without doing so under the NATO flag.  “Coalitions of the willing” and all that.


However, any Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian Brigade is but a springboard to point of this entry – interesting as such a brigade is in the current circumstances.

From the culmination of points above, the question arises, once inaugurated next month, should President Poroshenko seek to reestablish some form of security guarantee with the remaining Budapest Memorandum guarantors together with other willing nations on the European continent?

Regional security has been severely shaken – with global potential if not confronted.  Foundational legally binding regional security instruments irreversibly discarded.  Not all of Russia’s neighbouring EU states are in NATO.  Not all Ukraine’s neighbours are against some form of security architecture including Ukraine.

NATO membership and EU accession are decades away – if ever Ukraine makes the grade and/or decides to apply.  Both entities have their dissenting voices within regarding Ukrainian membership should it ever decide to formally apply.  Thus some form of tangible security coalition outside of NATO would seem the only realistic option.

Poland, Lithuania, Sweden and a few others are very clear-eyed in recognising that Ukraine is now – and will be for many years to come – something of a front line State when it comes to Kremlin mischief and bullying, however it will manifest itself.

Thus, should President Poroshenko try and cobble together some form of regional security apparatus with willing European nations – be they NATO members or otherwise?  At the very least it would seem wise to revisit the Budapest Memorandum with the US and UK guarantors to ascertain exactly how they interpret that guarantee after recent events – and perhaps open it up to any others willing to act as guarantors.



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