Here Is How America Can Bring Peace to Ukraine
The administration reportedly plans to propose a 20,000-man peacekeeping force for the Donbas, where some 10,000 have died in fighting since 2014. The ultimate objective is remove Russian forces, disarm separatists and reintegrate the region into Ukraine with greater autonomy.
Moscow’s agreement would be more likely if Washington offered to address Russia’s larger security concerns. NATO still is formally committed to including Ukraine and Georgia. The United States and its allies should indicate that they have no intention to further expand the alliance. While they would go to war to defend present members in the unlikely event of Russian aggression, they will not drive Western commitments, troops, and arms into what once was the heart of the Soviet Union.
Taking NATO membership off the table would remove Moscow’s incentive to keep the Ukrainian conflict alive. A peaceful Ukraine would no longer pose a paradoxical military threat to Russia. Moscow could rid itself of a costly conflict which has consumed resources and lives for no good purpose. Ukraine could develop economically and politically as it wished. Sanctions could end, encouraging economic integration from Europe through Ukraine into Russia.
Such an approach would be a compromise, but may be the best possible deal for everyone. Of course, Kiev is free to set its own policy, but so do the allies, which would be foolish to add additional vulnerable defense dependents. Doing so would be a particularly bad deal for America, which would be expected to do most of the defending against a nuclear-armed Russia. Sanctions won’t force Moscow out of Crimea absent a geopolitical cataclysm. But sanctions ensure that Moscow actively undermines U.S. interests around the world.
Congress may have missed the memo, but Washington has lost the ability to dictate to other nations. No one benefits from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. To succeed the latest administration peace proposal should address the reasons behind Russia’s Ukrainian intervention. The allies should declare the end of NATO expansion.
Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.