Despite more than a year of claiming otherwise, the US-backed government of Ukraine is now openly acknowledging their close association with NATO. Although the rhetoric is carefully guarded so as not to admit that Ukraine has become a de facto NATO member, the inescapable fact is that it is in all but name.
Remember back in 2013 and 2014 when those who railed against the US-NATO manufactured conflict in Ukraine – decrying Washington’s and Brussels’ belligerent policies as clear and unmistakable provocations – were called ‘conspiracy theorists’ for daring to suggest that behind the flowery language of ‘democracy’ and ‘liberal European values’ lay an insidious effort to bring Ukraine into NATO’s orbit? Remember how such voices (this author included) were described as ‘paranoid’ and ‘Putin propagandists’ while the United States’ handpicked successors to deposed President Yanukovich in Kiev were described as ‘patriots’ and ‘protectors of sovereignty’? Well, as it turns out, the conspiracy theories were incontrovertible facts, and the so-called ‘patriots’ were (and are) inveterate liars.
Ukraine: Reality vs Fiction
As Ukraine continues its slide into total and irreversible economic collapse, and Donetsk and Lugansk endure a second year of war, a little publicized announcement was made in Kiev by Prime Minister Yatsenyuk. On April 8, Interfax-Ukraine reported that Ukraine would be signing an agreement for close military cooperation with NATO. As Yatsenyuk himself explained, “The government is signing an agreement on cooperation in the field of support with NATO. It is an agreement on support between the Ukrainian Cabinet and NATO, which envisages the implementation of four trust projects with NATO, including military and technical cooperation, communications, new communications and information technologies.” Naturally, the language employed in this statement is critical to understanding the true meaning of the agreement.
First of all is the completely laughable notion of “cooperation” and “support” with NATO. A global military force employing some of the most advanced weapons systems and battlefield tactics is not exactly in search of a partner as dilapidated, disheveled, corruption-ridden, and generally ineffective as the Ukrainian military. The phrasing is merely a rhetorical flourish designed to save face in front of the already deeply discouraged and humiliated people of Ukraine, while simultaneously obscuring the fact that its military will now be merely an annex of NATO. In other words, far from a “partnership,” Ukraine is entering into an agreement of submission and subservience.
Second, one should be deeply skeptical of exactly what “technical cooperation” and “communications and information technologies” actually means. Deliberately ambiguous language aside, it seems that Kiev is publicly acknowledging the fact that their entire intelligence gathering and communications infrastructure will be a de facto arm of NATO. Intelligence, targeting capabilities, and more will be entirely dependent on NATO technology and NATO operatives; so much for Ukrainian ‘neutrality.’
In what can only be described as an insult to the intelligence of international observers, and an affront to decency and truth, Yatsenyuk justified this new partnership with NATO by describing the organization as “fighting for global peace.” If NATO is fighting for global peace, the world can only shudder to think how it might act if it were spoiling for war.
But of course, one of the principal issues here is not merely that Ukraine is partnering with NATO, this was a foregone conclusion. Rather, it is the fact that the US-backed government in Kiev has done precisely what it vowed not to do.
Just over a year ago, before the Kiev government’s war on Donetsk and Lugansk had begun, Yatsenyuk was singing a very different tune. The Washington Post reported in a now clearly hilarious headline Ukrainian government tries to defuse tension with Russia, pledges it won’t join NATO that, “Ukraine’s new pro-Western government voiced restraint…pledging that Ukraine would not join NATO and would take steps to improve ties with Moscow…[Yatsenyuk] reiterated that Kiev would not seek to join NATO, a step that would be seen as highly provocative in Moscow… ‘Association with NATO is not on the agenda,’ he said.” Of course many didn’t believe Yatsenyuk’s lies at the time.
Indeed, long before the US-backed puppet government assumed power, the issue of NATO insinuating itself into Ukraine was a well known western strategy. Even the EU Association agreement, which was dishonestly marketed as purely an economic arrangement for Ukraine, introduced precisely this point. One of the provisions of the agreement stated that, “The Parties shall explore the potential of military and technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence Agency (EDA) will establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues.” To everyone but the most naïve and/or dishonest analysts, this language was tantamount to Ukraine-NATO partnership and collaboration. Certainly it was interpreted that way by Russia which, unsurprisingly, publicly denounced this association agreement which clearly amounted to a form of blackmail – a sort of “join NATO and the EU or be shut out” kind of deal.
There can be no mistaking what has happened in Ukraine. A legal government has been overthrown and a puppet government put in its place. A war has been waged on the regions unwilling to accept to the new dispensation, while the West slowly but surely transforms what had been an independent, albeit corrupt, state, into a de facto NATO protectorate many orders of magnitude greater than Kosovo; all this under the auspices of “democratization” and “freedom.” But perhaps the most pertinent question is: Why now?
Normalizing and Codifying the Military Relationship
Yatsenyuk’s recent announcement is not exactly a revelation. Instead, it is merely the formalization and public acknowledgement of what has been quietly understood from the beginning of the current conflict – Ukraine is, militarily speaking, merely an extension of the US-NATO. While Kiev may only just now be making the statement, previous weeks and months have seen critical shipments of military materiel arriving in Ukraine courtesy of its patrons in Washington and Europe.
The US has made no secret of its intentions to provide military support to its quislings in Ukraine. As Rear Admiral John Kirby noted in August 2014, at least $19 million would be provided for training of Ukrainian National Guard forces, many of whom hail from the ranks of Right Sector and other fascist groups.
Indeed, the US-NATO military support goes far beyond simply providing arms and communications and logistics aid. Rather, Washington has been keen on taking a direct hand in the training and coordination of Ukraine’s armed forces, including the aforementioned fascists of the National Guard. All throughout 2015, Washington will be leading military drills in collaboration with the Ukrainian military, including the recently completed joint exercises held in Lviv.
Of course it should not be forgotten that such joint exercises have been ongoing for years, and were merely ratcheted up in 2014 against the backdrop of the war on Donetsk and Lugansk. Perhaps the most well known and all-encompassing of these exercises is the annual Rapid Trident, which included “nearly two weeks of training in Ukraine, where more than 1,000 troops from 15 nations conducted a series of military drills and war games.” The critical point being that Rapid Trident is led by US Army-Europe command, and is essentially a US military operation that doubles as a NATO operation. And of course 2014 was not the first of the Rapid Trident exercises, as these have been ongoing for a number of years.
Essentially then, when Yatsenyuk proclaims the official partnership of Ukraine and NATO, he is merely selling a message for public relations purposes. His role is to provide the façade of democracy to a country that has been transformed into a US neo-colony and NATO protectorate. Or, perhaps put in a more cynical, though no less accurate way, Ukraine has become the forward arm of NATO in its decades-long attempt to encircle, intimidate, and ultimately dismember Russia. This is what the conflict is, and has always been about. Russia simply will not allow a US military base masquerading as a country to edge to its borders. It is obviously and unmistakably engaging in self-preservation and defense of its interests. And, considering the recent history of US-NATO military aggression and adventurism, who can blame them?
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.