Security Guarantees

In an editorial regarding this week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, The Wall Street Journal‘s editors dropped this line:

A debate is underway over whether Ukraine should benefit from a formal Western security guarantee, or perhaps join NATO.

A Western security guarantee for Ukraine is utterly worthless, as the Budapest Memoranda demonstrate. Marginally better would be NATO membership. Ukraine has some security and government integrity criteria to meet, but it’s working to meet them and would benefit from assistance in that direction.

Better for Ukraine, and the West generally, would be a separate mutual security treaty that would include Ukraine, the Baltics and Poland, and the rest of the Three Seas Initiative nations, along with the US and Great Britain (and, perhaps, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway to strengthen Western control over Russia’s ability to leave the Baltic Sea). For all of the editors’ claimed NATO “improvement,” it still lags heavily in satisfying its own mutual defense obligations, much less doing anything to defend Europe at large.

Along with that, it’s necessary to make clear to Russia that, so long as it insists on playing the barbarian, it will continue to be isolated and contained and that the containment will be rapidly tightened.

Russian paranoia needs also to be corrected. No one in the civilized world has any desire to run over Russia or conquer it. Its vast resources are much more cheaply obtained—to mutual benefit—through free trade than through conquering and occupation. The history of Russian-world relations make such convincing deucedly difficult, but they do not make the convincing impossible.

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