“Appeasement” of Russia: Boris Johnson’s Opinion
Master in International Sciences
Recently, Boris Johnson’s article “Putin Has Paved the Way for Ukrainian Membership in NATO” was published in The Washington Post. In the context of the vector “Western states — Ukraine”, as well as the issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the British politician voiced atypically frank for the Western press, but traditional for his style, clear, devoid of illusory thesis. Boris Johnson’s thoughts amid the latest news that he is likely claiming to be Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance deserve special attention. It should also not be forgotten that there are separate political circles behind the British politician, and therefore he conveys the ideas of a certain part of Western politics.
…The West is still not united in its policy of active and comprehensive support for Ukraine…
Unfortunately, despite almost a year since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the West is still not united in its policy of active and comprehensive support for our state, as evidenced by the events of the Ramstein-8 meeting with a major scandal around German Leopard 2 tanks. It is clear that the absence of absolute intransigence of the so-called “Western world” regarding the Russian Federation’s expansionist actions has its own preconditions and reasons (to level here the role of Russian oil and gas would be a mistake), but the Ukrainian side is interested in directing still strong pacifist sentiments of some European countries in order to save the lives of Ukrainian citizens and restore the territorial integrity of the state. Since Boris Johnson is one of the most reasoned and unequivocal politicians in the Western support for Ukraine, in this context, his article cannot help attracting the attention of the Ukrainian audience.
…Instead of properly punishing Putin, the West responded with a policy of craven appeasement…
The very title of the above-mentioned article shows the emphasis on Ukraine’s accession to NATO, but let’s try to analyze it in retrospect of the peculiarities of Western policy towards Russian-Ukrainian relations after the Russian occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the formation of quasi-republics in the East of Ukraine. And here Boris Johnson, without using ambiguous sentences, clearly states: “Instead of properly punishing him (Putin — ed.), we responded with a policy of craven appeasement… We spent years telling Ukrainians that we have an “open door” policy in NATO, and that they have the right to “choose their own destiny,” and that Russia should not be able to exercise a veto. And all that time we have overtly signaled to Moscow that Ukraine is never going to join the alliance — because so many NATO members will simply exercise their veto themselves”.
Thus, the British politician summarizes, the situation characteristic of Ukraine after 2014 should be perceived as one where our country found itself between two worlds: “NATO had spouted enough fine phrases about Ukrainian membership for Putin to use in his propaganda and to claim that Russia was being threatened with encirclement”. Even the precondition for Russia’s attack on Ukraine, according to the politician, is Putin’s confidence (and, not without reason) that the West does not take the issue of defending Ukraine too seriously: “He attacked because he wanted to rebuild the old Soviet imperium and because he believed — foolishly — that he was going to win…
And yet the reality is that NATO has done nothing to protect Ukraine”.
…The reality is that NATO has done nothing to protect Ukraine…
Note that these are not the words of some Russian propagandist spoken in order to level the role of the North Atlantic Alliance. This is the opinion of a well-known British politician, an active participant in international political life. Moreover, it is a desperate statement by a figure who has pushed aside all the demagoguery of international diplomacy in order to… call a spade a spade.
As for the issue of NATO and Ukraine, Boris Johnson cites two main arguments used by Western politicians — the lack of support for NATO membership in Ukraine and military incompatibility: “People used to claim that Ukraine wasn’t properly militarily compatible with NATO. Today, Ukrainians are deploying a dizzying variety of equipment from NATO countries, with the utmost skill and bravery”.
Then, against the background of recent events, paradoxically as it might seem, the question arises of the effectiveness of the “defensive alliance”, together with its members’ relying on it for real defense in accordance with Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The British politician himself states: “There is absolutely nothing that NATO could teach Ukrainians about fighting a war — in fact, there is a lot that they could teach us”.
…One of the logical consequences of this war should be formation of a new alliance strong enough to stop Russia’s imperialist aspirations…
Thus, especially critical in the new realities is the issue of renewal of international organizations, the mistakes and weaknesses of which have become especially noticeable in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation. One of the logical consequences of this war should be formation of a new alliance strong enough to stop Russia’s imperialist aspirations, which will become acute again and again.
As an alternative, it is appropriate to mention the Black Sea Doctrine of Ukrainian geopolitical scientist Yurii Lypa, which, unfortunately, is not well-known to Ukrainian international experts. Guided by the ideas of the latter, Ukraine should initiate creation of the Baltic-Black Sea axis — the anti-Russian bloc of the Black Sea countries — Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, the Don, the Kuban. According to the author, Ukraine should have become the leader of the association, given its large territory, number and hard work of the population. Yurii Lypa advised to involve Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia in the above-mentioned bloc, as all of them are interested in containment of Russia’s expansion to the west.
In terms of future strategies, we consider the above-mentioned direction to be the most promising, but now we are forced to work with existing international political alliances, actually “play by other people’s rules” and be a warring party in the confrontation between NATO and the Russian Federation. Boris Johnson rightly points out here: “For the sake of stability and peace, Ukraine now needs clarity about its position in the Euro-Atlantic security architecture. All our dodging and weaving has ended in slaughter. Ukrainians should be given everything they need to finish this war, as quickly as possible”.
…For the sake of stability and peace, Ukraine now needs clarity about its position in the Euro-Atlantic security architecture…
Of course, diplomacy itself involves ensuring the interests of the own state in various ways, deception and demagoguery included, but the result of such an ambiguous position of the Western world on radical anti-Russian actions is “the worst war in Europe for 80 years”.
The question here is not even Ukraine’s membership in NATO, but the West’s very position on the Russian-Ukrainian war, which has been going on in an active phase for eight years, and in which we are faced with a completely paradoxical case for military history to fight an unidentified enemy. Remember how long Ukrainian side had to prove to international institutions the already well-known presence of the Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine. In parallel with creating our own army, almost destroyed before not without the help of the “Western allies”, we had to provide evidence of the presence in the east of our state not of “little green men”, not of “people’s militias”, but of regular Russian troops, to break the myth of the “civil war”, “oppression of Russian-speaking people” and much more.
And although thanks to the titanic work of Ukrainian diplomacy, with the incessant heroism of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the support of the whole people, we manage to “break the rock” of the pacifist West, the fact remains that the price of such success is too high. Would it have been possible to avoid today’s war if Russian expansionist manifestations had been instantly severely rebuffed by Western diplomacy? Yes, it would. Do we have the right to be dissatisfied with the Western countries, the assistance from which we use now? Yes, we do. After all, in a fit of unlimited gratitude to partners, we need to remember the conditions of the Budapest Memorandum, which Russia so cynically crossed out, and which they, as civilized countries, must adhere to.
…How many more lives should Ukrainians give in order to finally eradicate Neville Chamberlain’s failed policy of “appeasement” from the political circles of the West?…
And even if we remove from the agenda the violation of the inviolability of the borders of an independent state in the 21st century (!), from the purely pragmatic point of view it becomes clear that in our territories and with our losses once again in the history of mankind we are holding back imperialist associates of the doctrine of the “Third Rome” from further attack on the Western world.
How many more lives should Ukrainians give in order to finally eradicate Neville Chamberlain’s failed policy of “appeasement” from the political circles of the West?