Amid the ongoing effort to subdue the pro-Russian rebels in the eastern part of the country, Ukraine has decided it wants to join NATO after all – which is kind of like trying to get home insurance when your house is already on fire.
In an attempt to regain control of eastern Ukraine and establish stronger ties with the West, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has submitted a proposal to Parliament to put the country on a path towards NATO membership.
Ukraine may be denied NATO coverage due to a pre-existing condition (a bad case of the Russians), but if they do join, it will surely piss off Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia was quick to denounce Ukraine’s moves to join NATO as well as NATO’s plan to turn up the heat in Eastern Europe.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said ahead of the Western military alliance’s two-day summit in Wales that opens on Thursday that the growing Russian threat meant NATO must create a bigger presence in Eastern Europe. NATO is expected to endorse the creation of a new military force of some 4,000 troops capable of moving on only about eight hours’ notice.
“The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible NATO presence in the East,” says Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
“We must face the reality that Russia… considers NATO an adversary,” he told reporters. “We cannot afford to be naive.”
While Ukraine was busy asking NATO for help, Russia was busy denying their military support of the pro-Russian insurgency. Although Ukraine and the West have repeatedly accused Russia of direct involvement in Ukraine, with NATO saying last week that Russia had more than 1,000 of its troops deployed in Ukraine and 20,000 massed along the border, Russia continues to deny sending troops. And when Ukraine released a video of Russian paratroopers it says it captured within its eastern border, Russia was quick with an excuse. Russian military responded by saying the men had crossed an unmarked portion of the border “by accident”.
But not everyone was buying that – especially Canada. In its most aggressive act since 1812, Canada’s NATO delegation sent out a tweet in map-form to the Russian soldiers “who keep getting lost and ‘accidentally’ entering Ukraine”.
The Russian NATO delegation then returned fire with a tweet from its official account. On their map the Crimean Peninsula is labelled “Russia” and the conflict-ridden area in eastern Ukraine is conveniently absent.
I guess ownership is TBD… ?
Meanwhile, more than a million people have left their homes because of the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine and some 2,600 people have been killed since the violence erupted. But there’s nothing like a little Twitter diplomacy to lighten the mood!