Might NATO and Russia make peace for Ukraine?

Might_NATO_and_Russia_make_peace_for_Uk_Montages.jpg

OP-ED

by Chris Westdal

The Hill Times
April 27, 2016

OTTAWA—There may at last be light at the end of the tunnel of war in Ukraine. The NATO-Russia Council, which had been dormant for two years, met last week to discuss the peace process in eastern Ukraine. It was better late than never.

There was no great leap forward. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg voiced the requisite assurance that the meeting was “no return to business as usual.” United States General Philip Breedlove, the head of the U.S. forces in Europe and NATO’s supreme allied commander, added that, despite the talks, NATO reinforcement in Europe would continue. Afterward, Stoltenberg advised that the discussion had done nothing to change the “profound and persistent disagreements” between Russia and the NATO states.

All this notwithstanding, the revival of the NATO-Russia Council is a major step toward peace for Ukraine because, unlike the Minsk peace process, which is focused on the mechanics of the conflict and its possible resolution, the council must focus on the larger picture, in which the root causes of the conflict need diagnosis and remedy.

The council’s deliberations are also a major test for our new government. The subject matter is crucial. Canadians have fought two no-holds-barred world wars for Eurasian security. We cannot fight another, not ever, not with NATO and Russia both nuclear-armed. If our new leaders have any new ideas about how Canada might help avert Cold War II, now is the time to voice them.

We know our policy is not going to be more of the same. We’re re-engaging with Russia, for one thing, and surely we won’t carry on campaigning, as our last government did, for further NATO growth, even unto the Caucasus. But just what will our new policy be?

The essential elements of peace in eastern Ukraine include not only the substance of the Minsk plan but also a larger peace between NATO and Russia, an agreement to stop the tug of war for Ukraine and start giving that tormented state a chance to make the best of its circumstances, between East and West, rather than go on making the very worst of them.

That larger peace requires better fences between NATO and Russia—in our minds and on the ground—than the ones we’ve got, particularly now with NATO so far extended, the EU at (if not beyond) its limits, and Russia back on its feet. These parties need better boundaries. They need what Robert Frost called “mending walls.”

To build them, NATO would have to eschew further growth. The West would have to recognize that Crimea was Russian. The government of Ukraine would have to decentralize and work to regain the trust and loyalty of the Donbas. With Ukraine looking these days like another case of failed U.S.-backed regime change, the West would have to step back, stop pouring billions into Kyiv with obvious political intent, stop choosing leaders and running major ministries there and stop feeding exclusive Ukrainian nationalism.

Russia would have to stop interfering in eastern Ukraine, stop the hybrid war, stop holding Kyiv to ransom and start making normal life possible along its 1,920-kilometre border with its Slavic neighbour.

Both sides would have to commit themselves to restraint in rhetoric and in action. Both would undertake to negotiate trade agreements freeing Ukraine to resume its natural, age-old commerce with both east and west.

Both sides would have to acknowledge that, with much of the political and natural world falling apart before their eyes, there are much, much better, urgent things to do than spend new billions on arms to scare one another—arms they know they dare not use.

A new deal is not all available tomorrow morning. The council’s meeting last week did not shake the earth. Formidable political and diplomatic obstacles still lie in the path to such a peace.

But these essential elements of peace had better not be just pipe dreams. The long-term stakes are too high. The West has many more interests in common with Russia than it has reasons to squabble. The time is right for us to try to turn the rising tide of new cold war.

Chris Westdal is a former ambassador and current fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He is also a consultant, corporate director, and occasional commentator on Canadian foreign policy.

Image: NATO

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
SEARCH
PODCAST

An Update on the NAFTA Renegotiations

May 21, 2018


On today's Global Exchange Podcast, we touch base with CGAI's North American trade experts in light of a busy week on the NAFTA file in Washington. After months of hard-pressed negotiations, and 6 weeks of 'perpetual' discussions in Washington, the deal has reached its next turning point, with Congressional leadership signalling that they'd need a new deal by May 17th in order to have it passed before U.S. mid-term elections in the Fall. With no deal in sight, and the Congressional deadline now in the rear-view mirror, we sit down with Sarah Goldfeder, Laura Dawson, and Eric Miller to ask where we go from here.


IN THE MEDIA

Between Trump, Iran and North Korea, Canada’s G7 has a high potential for chaos

by Chris Hall (feat. James Trottier & Colin Robertson), CBC News, May 18, 2018

The struggle Trudeau could face if Kinder Morgan walks away from Trans Mountain

by Robert Tuttle & Michael Bellusci (feat. Dennis McConaghy), Bloomberg News, May 18, 2018

Canada 'a laughing stock': Experts react to Trans Mountain indemnity

by April Fong (feat. Dennis McConaghy), BNN Bloomberg, May 18, 2018

AUDIO: NAFTA update

with Danielle Smith (feat. Sarah Goldfeder), Global News Radio, May 18, 2018

VIDEO: NAFTA Deadline Day (@ 3:00)

with Don Martin (feat. John Weekes), CTV Power Play, May 17, 2018

VIDEO: Deal or no deal on NAFTA: Canada and U.S. send mixed messages

with Rosemary Barton (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC The National, May 17, 2018

Trump’s 'submission' strategy is not working so expect NAFTA talks to drag on

by Kevin Carmichael (Feat. Eric Miller), Financial Post, May 17, 2018

Backstop deal may be last hope for TransMountain pipeline, says former oil executive

by CBC News (feat. Dennis McConaghy), CBC News, May 17, 2018

Stuck with limited oil export options, Liberals may regret B.C. tanker ban

by John Ivison (feat. Dennis McConaghy), National Post, May 17, 2018

Feds OK early start to construction of navy’s new supply ships

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Dave Perry), The Canadian Press, May 17, 2018


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: contact@cgai.ca
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2018 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email