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NATO is being tested. In the past few days, Russian separatists have gained the upper hand in key parts of Ukraine, raising both regional and international alarm. NATO members in Wales for a two-day summit are firming up an agreement to pre-position military equipment in Baltic states and to put 4,000 troops at the ready. In a speech yesterday, President Barack Obama reiterated the U.S. commitment to NATO and its mission to protect against threats to member states, but many question whether any combination of US-European saber rattling and sanctions can deter Russian President Vladimir Putin. Please join us to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
- Ivo Daalder President, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO in the Obama administration.
- Andrew Weiss Vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and he served on the National Security Council staff as a Russian expert under President Bill Clinton.
- Heather Conley Senior fellow and director, Europe Program Center for Strategic and International Studies
- Joerg Forbrig Transatlantic Fellow, Central and Eastern Europe The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Adrian Karatnycky Senior fellow, Atlantic Council
MR. TOM GJELTENAnd thanks for joining us. I'm Tm Gjelten of NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm. Diane is getting a voice treatment. She'll be back later this month. President Obama is in Wales today for a two-day NATO summit, a post World War II military alliance is facing several crisis, but one with a relatively familiar adversary, Russia.
MR. TOM GJELTENJoining me to talk about the NATO response to Russian aggression and efforts to build a transatlantic security strategy, I have Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and from a studio at WBEZ in Chicago, Ivo Daalder, until last year, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, now president of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Hello to all of you.
MS. HEATHER CONLEYGreat to be with you.
MR. ANDREW WEISSGood morning.
GJELTENAnd we'll be taking calls a little later. Do we still need NATO? We want to hear your thoughts and questions. Call us at 1-800-433-8850. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org or join us on Facebook or Twitter. So the 28 member states of NATO have gathered in Wales. The situation in Ukraine has made this a very important summit. NATO Secretary General Ander Rasmussen has arrived at the summit today and had this message for Russia.
SECRETARY GENERAL ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSENWe continue to call on Russia to pull back its troops from Ukrainian borders. Stop the flow of weapons and fighters into Ukraine. Stop the support for armed militants in Ukraine and engage in a constructive political process.
GJELTENThe question, of course, is whether Vladimir Putin will follow that NATO advice. Ambassador Daalder, let's go to you first. I remember covering some NATO summits in the past where we wondered if it was even worth paying attention. You could say Vladimir Putin has done NATO a favor, right, getting the alliance back in the foreground.
MR. IVO DAALDERWell, certainly in the foreground is right. I think that NATO proved, even after the (word?) war, that it was an institution necessary to bring greater stability and security throughout Europe and indeed in the rest of the world. After all, we had 150,000 troops and six operations on three continents only a few years ago, all under NATO command.
MR. IVO DAALDERBut clearly, this summit and this meeting is more important, more in the limelight than any other summit that we've seen of NATO leaders since the end of the Cold War and we have Vladimir Putin to thank for it.
GJELTENAnd Ivo, how do you assess the challenge that NATO is facing right now? I said at the beginning, this is a test. How severe does this test stand up against the other tests that the alliances faced over the last 50 years?
DAALDERWell, it's a very severe test. It's really two different tests. They're related, but they're different. The first test is for the 28 members of NATO to demonstrate that they take each others' security as seriously as the treaty that was signed 65 years ago underscores, that we are all prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory, including those countries, the Baltic States, Poland, Romania, that have only recently become members of NATO and, indeed, until not that long ago were part of the Warsaw Pact and in the case of the Baltic States, were occupied by the Soviet Union.
DAALDERThat test is number one. Are we serious about Article 5, the notion that an attack against one is an attack against all and are we willing to and prepared to do what is necessary militarily to provide for security of all of NATO territory? The second test is the test of can we insure security throughout Europe. Can we insure security beyond Europe? And here, the situation in Ukraine is dominant. The situation in the Middle East and in North Africa is important.
DAALDERAnd the question there is, even if we can defend and protect NATO territory, is NATO capable of being a force of stability in a broader world, including in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa.
GJELTENHeather Conley, Ivo Daalder just said that this is a test in the first place for whether NATO will really defend its member states. Of course, Ukraine is not a member state. Does that mean that this test sort of presupposes that the line that NATO is going to defend is somewhere west of Ukraine? And where does that leave Ukraine?
CONLEYYou know, there is a very clear line between those countries that are inside the NATO fence and outside the NATO fence and that was very clear in 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia. And some have argued that part of the impetus for that Russian incursion was because Georgia nearly received a formal invitation to join NATO so it's been very clear when you are inside the fence and outside the fence.
CONLEYPresident Obama's visit to Tallinn right before traveling to Wales was, in some ways, exactly what Ivo was saying. There was sort of that Article 5, that security guarantee that the Baltic States who see a repeat of history as it's playing out in Ukraine, the president assured them that NATO would be there for them. And I can't begin to tell you how critical that is for their own assurance and for their own stability and security.
CONLEYWhat NATO has to decide, and it may not decide it at this summit, is if they're going to provide any assistance to the Ukrainian military, lethal assistance. They've provided non-lethal, night vision goggles, intelligence-sharing, body armor, but this is a hollowed-out Ukrainian military that is no match for the Russian military. And we are seeing, over the last several days, the rapid deterioration of the Ukrainian position.
CONLEYSo that's what's before NATO decision-makers, but their first and principle goal is to protect NATO members and that's what they're doing today.
GJELTENWell, what would be NATO's justification for arming a non-NATO state?
CONLEYWell, it would be to, again, support the principles of territorial integrity, to give the Ukrainian military the means to defend their own territory of which NATO has said that over 1,000 Russian soldiers are in Ukraine and providing sophisticated weaponry. It would provide the Ukrainian military a chance to defend themselves.
GJELTENAndrew Weiss, do you see any danger that Russia would actually take military action against any of the Baltic States, against any NATO states or are the assurances that both Heather Conley and Ivo Daalder say are necessary really just sort of to assure these countries that they don't have to worry? I mean, is there really much of a risk that Russia would move against those countries?
WEISSWell, I think President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have an op-ed out today in the London Times in which they say Putin has basically torn up the rulebook of the post-Cold War security environment. We're in a very new situation where we're seeing Russian aggression against a neighboring state. We're seeing the first land grab since World War II in the annexation of Crimea.
WEISSThis is a whole new challenge. And so when Ambassador Daalder or Heather Conley say we're providing reassurance to countries like Baltics, well, we sure better. There are significant Russian ethnic populations inside two of the Baltic countries. President Putin has said his key organizing principle for Russian foreign policy is gonna be to defend the rights of Russian speakers wherever they are.
WEISSAnd I think a big part of his agenda right now is to show that the West is a paper tiger. And so as much as we can say these NATO commitments are solemn and that there's no difference between defending Tallinn and defending London and Paris, I think there is a big difference and we're going to see a much more aggressive, much more assertive Russia and a much more nimble risk-taking Russia.
WEISSAnd how we respond to that with these Cold War type institutions like NATO, which has been transformed since 1990 is going to be very hard and I don't think we should be naive about that. This is going to be tough.
GJELTENWell, if Putin wants to show that NATO's a paper tiger, he's gonna do it in Ukraine? Is that what you're saying?
WEISSWell, he's already done that. You know, basically, there is no military role for the West in NATO. President Obama and the Western leaders have made that abundantly clear since the beginning.
WEISSSo we have been moving, ever since the crisis began, to basically say, we're not going to do much militarily. We're gonna make these declarations of moral outrage. We're gonna try to shore up Ukraine economically and politically. At the moment, the tide has really turned in Eastern Ukraine where we've seen Russia increase the military support to the separatists. It's not a full-scale invasion, but it's shown that the Ukrainian forces, such as they are, are no match for this combination of sort of disguised Russian special forces, disguised Russian regular units and they're so-called, you know, separatist allies in the east. It's a very messy situation.
GJELTENIvo Daalder, you were in the position as U.S. ambassador to NATO for several years under President Obama of trying to persuade European allies to do things that they may have been reluctant to do. Put yourself back in that seat today at this NATO summit. How far do you think you could get trying to persuade European allies, for example, to consider giving lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government?
DAALDERWell, we'll have to see how -- I assume that the person sitting in that seat these days and the president of the United States are exactly spending their next 24 hours doing exactly that and we'll await the outcome. But I am more confident than I would've been six months ago that we are going to see European allies stepping up in a major way. One of the first things that happened when I became -- when President Obama came to office and told us that he wanted to have contingency plans for the defense of all of NATO territory.
DAALDERAnd when I came to Brussels in May of 2009, it was the case that there were no contingency plans for the defense of the Baltic States. We worked hard in the next year and a half to get those plans in place and we got all NATO allies, including the Germans, who were reluctant on this score until that time, to recognize that once you are a member of NATO, there is a solemn commitment to defend those allies. And I think we are seeing that today in Wales.
DAALDERWe will see the announcement of a series of steps, all of which are designed not just to reassure the allies that their defense is serious, but to send a message to Vladimir Putin not even to think about doing what he is doing in Ukraine in parts of the country -- in those countries that are now NATO allies.
GJELTENWell, very briefly, Ivo, before we go to a break, how serious is the commitment of 4,000 troops, you know, against the Russian army?
DAALDERWell, it's not about 4,000 troops. It's about the ability to rapidly send a first effort of troops in order to defend Eastern Europe. There will be infrastructure improvements. There will be prepositioning of equipment in order to enable forces from the United States and from other part of Europe and Canada to flow in rapidly, in to all parts of NATO in the Eastern parts of NATO to deal with a potential threat or an actual attack by Russian forces.
GJELTENOkay. Ivo Daalder is president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and until recently, U.S. ambassador to NATO. And, of course, there's a big NATO summit beginning today in Wales. We're gonna take a short break and when we come back, we'll continue this discussion. Please stay tuned.
GJELTENAnd welcome back. I'm Tom Gjelten of NPR. I'm sitting in for Diane Rehm today. And this is the first day of a two-day NATO summit in Wales. And the alliance is being put to what many say is its most severe test since the end of the Cold War. My guests are Ivo Daalder who was U.S. ambassador to NATO in the Obama Administration up until last year. He joins us on the line from WBEZ in Chicago.
GJELTENAlso Andrew Weiss. He's vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and he served on the National Security Council staff as a Russia expert under President Clinton. Also Heather Conley, senior fellow and director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And a reminder that you can join our conversation by calling 1-800-433-8850 or emailing us at email@example.com.
GJELTENBut first, I want to go to Berlin for a perspective from Germany. Joerg Forbrig is Transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund. And he joins us by phone. Thank you very much for joining this conversation, Joerg.
MR. JOERG FORBRIGThanks for having me.
GJELTENSo Ambassador Daalder, just before the break, was saying that in his judgment the situation has changed even from when he was ambassador to NATO up until last year and that European allies are sufficiently alarmed by what has happened in Ukraine, that they may be more willing to sort of support tough action than they might've been previously. Speaking from your perspective in Berlin, do you think that's true and what has been the reaction of the German government in particular?
FORBRIGWell, generally I think this is correct. I think this unity that we see today in the assessments across Europe of developments in Russia and the war Russia waged against Ukraine is something that we couldn't have expected six months ago. I think when the crisis broke out there was much more diversity in the assessments differentiation across European capitals than there is today. I think today there is hardly any doubt across Europe that Russia is an aggressive neighbor, that it seized to be a partner, that it's a threat not only to our neighbors like Ukraine but to ourselves.
FORBRIGAnd I think the measures that especially the European Union has taken in several ways, and increasingly over the last couple of weeks, basically speak to that unity. We now have a number of measures in place, political sanctions, also a number of fairly touch economic sanctions that would've been unthinkable a year ago. So if anything, I would say that a sense of unity has built in response to the crisis in Ukraine, that in many ways actually is also paralleled by a new found sense of unity and purpose in NATO.
GJELTENOkay. That is -- there's more sense of unity. You're speaking of a general attitude. But what about some of the specific actions that are being contemplated, even tougher sanctions than have been imposed already? And as our guests have been discussing this morning, even the prospect of providing lethal military assistance to the Ukrainian government, what's the view of those options in Germany?
FORBRIGWell, here in Germany I think there is a lot of caution when it comes to the supplier of military equipment to Ukraine. We've just been through a fairly tough discussion on military supplies to the Peshmerga in response of the Islamic State threat. And any such decision is not just a decision by the government here but it's subject to parliamentary approval. So this is nothing that will happen very quickly. It will be going through a fairly harsh debate in this country. But depending also on Russia's actions from here on, I would certainly not rule it out.
FORBRIGThat said, Germany has throughout the crisis placed a lot of emphasis on negotiations, on the political solution to the crisis. But when none of that came to fruition, German was one of the countries that sort of shifted positions and decided very strongly that it was time for economic measures, punitive sanctions against Russia. And I think tomorrow we will see a next round of sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Council. And that, I think, is a fairly strong statement by the European Union. Beyond that, military aid will be a much tougher question to debate and decide back here in Europe, and especially here in Germany.
GJELTENLet me ask you, Joerg, about the position of the French government. You're going to represent all of Europe here for us today on this panel. The French government has announced that it will delay the delivery of a couple of warships to Russia that it has contracted to build for Russia. How serious is that move and is it sufficient to satisfy those who have been calling for a total reconsideration of this agreement between France and Russia?
FORBRIGWell, I think first of all, this decision is highly symbolic. I think it indicates that within Europe we have long had splits in opinion about what kind of measures should be taken, what kind of costs individual countries are ready to bear by imposing sanctions on Russia. I think this move by the French president does indicate that the scales have been tipping in the last couple of weeks.
FORBRIGObviously it's a temporary suspension and it will depend on Russia, what's -- how, sort of, it behaves from here on and whether there's any chance for this deal eventually to be honored by the French government. But for the time being, I don't see any indication that France could be going through with this arms deal any time soon. At the moment, the window of time that's been given by the French government until November, but I'm fairly sure that if Russia continues its escalation and if it doesn't take any serious measures for resolving this crisis, then France will be hard pushed to suspend this deal even further.
GJELTENOkay. Joerg Forbrig is Transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund. He's just joined us by phone from Berlin. Joerg, thank you very much for your contribution.
GJELTENSo Andrew Weiss, we've been talking here about some pretty tough actions. The idea of providing lethal military equipment to the Ukrainian government, that's certainly one route that can be taken. On the other hand, there is a kind of diplomatic track that is underway right now. President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the president of Ukraine, President Poroshenko actually had a conversation about this yesterday. Where does that diplomatic activity stand right now?
WEISSSo the situation on the battlefield changed dramatically over the past two weeks. And we've seen the Ukrainian forces having to surrender big chunks of territory in Eastern Ukraine. And that's a direct result of basically Putin upping the ante and saying, I'm not going to hand Poroshenko a military victory. So as a result of that we see this scramble for position on the diplomatic track. And that's largely been lead by the Ukrainians and the Russians themselves.
WEISSSo yesterday President Putin and President Poroshenko had a phone call and then they announced something that was quickly walked back that would look like a ceasefire. Just this morning in Wales, President Poroshenko has announced that there will be a ceasefire as early as tomorrow. The question is, there's a contact group meeting which is this sort of European-lead diplomatic process in Minsk. If the negotiators in Minsk reach agreement on a written document, Poroshenko said he's prepared to order a ceasefire as early as 7:00 am tomorrow morning eastern time.
WEISSSo this is a big change in the flavor, but that really sets up a bunch of uncomfortable questions. Are we going to have a frozen conflict in Eastern Ukraine? Will it basically freeze in place some sort of de facto autonomy for these separatists? It's very messy and it's going to create a lot of very uncomfortable questions for western leaders.
GJELTENHeather Conley, among the participants in that contact group meeting tomorrow are representatives of the separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine. And the Ukrainian government has been very reluctant to deal with those guys. They call them -- the presidents called them terrorists. What's your assessment of the prospects on this front?
CONLEYRight. This group, it's coordinated -- the contact group by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with Ukrainian, Russian and then separatist representatives. It's a win in many respects for Moscow because they want to see legitimacy conferred upon these pro-Russian separatists. They want to see the equality of Kiev and the People's Republic of Donetsk at the same table. And of course Kiev is extremely reluctant to do that. They have branded them terrorists and they're waging a military campaign against them.
CONLEYI think it's so interesting to watch -- really have to watch these -- it's sort of a dual track so we have this very questionable sort of peace plan process. It's a lot of confusion. It was -- as it was unveiled yesterday, parts of the Ukrainian government were walking it back as Poroshenko was announcing it. Moscow was even going back and forth, wasn't sure that it was -- because it was not a party to this conflict which stretches the imagination.
CONLEYSo there was a lot of confusion. But I always watch, to Andrew's point, watch what is going on on the ground because that is what is defining and will be defining the terms of this peace plan. So we are hearing initial reports from journalists on the ground that the battle for Mariupol, which is this critical sea access point, that if the Ukrainian government and military -- if Mariupol falls, there will be a land bridge connected from Crimea to the Donetsk and I think at that point you haven't effectively divided Ukraine.
CONLEYAnd that -- and so watch that battle space. Does this peace plan freeze this and allow the Russian separatists to continue to gain militarily? Or does the ceasefire allow the humanitarian process and the exchange of prisoners to go on? Very, very unclear. But for my money, watch what's going on on the ground because that's what's going to determine the future of Ukraine.
GJELTENWell, Ivo Daalder, you had a column this week in the financial times wherein you advocated the delivery of military assistance to the Ukrainian government. Now you're a longtime diplomat and you're familiar with the two-track approach in diplomacy where you sort of keep both options open. How do you see this -- the importance of sort of proceeding with these ceasefire talks against the prospect of providing lethal military assistance to the Ukrainian government?
DAALDERWell, two comments. First, I think the interest that Poroshenko seemingly has conveyed in a ceasefire, I think, is reflective of the fact that in the last two weeks the military situation has changed quite dramatically. The Ukrainian forces were on the verge a couple of weeks ago to basically retake all of these areas back. There was a final battle for Luhansk, for Donetsk coming up. And at that point, as Andrew said earlier, Putin escalated. He sent his forces in and pushed back. And now we are at the point that he is trying to find a breathing space.
DAALDERBut his goal, and frankly our goal, must be threefold, a recognition by Russia that it has to stop the support of the separatist forces, military, political, economic and in terms of people. Secondly that the Russian forces that are currently inside Ukraine need to be withdrawn and indeed, withdrawn from the border area. And third that Russia needs to accept the territory integrity of Ukraine. And it is only on that basis, it's only on those three principles that there is a possibility for a negotiation.
DAALDERThe "peace" plan -- and I put that word peace in quotation marks -- that Vladimir Putin announced yesterday in Mongolia, with great flair and drama, is designed to force the surrender of Kiev. Whether that is the surrender of all of the areas that are currently under separatist forces or indeed, even more is still to be negotiated.
DAALDERUnder those circumstances I think it is in our interest and it is in the interest of the Kiev government that we provide them with more means to push back on Russia. That means the kind of economic sanctions that Joerg talked about a little while ago, increasing those, but also to provide lethal aid to the Ukrainians because the status quo is not acceptable.
GJELTENWell, Ivo Daalder is president of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs. He was also U.S. ambassador to NATO. And you are listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I want to read a couple of emails now, just to push back a little bit, Ivo. Mike writes, "Lasting peace and security in Europe can only be achieved with Russia not against it."
GJELTENEarl from Ramad (sp?) writes, "Doesn't the very existence of NATO put Russia in an adversarial role versus the west? After all, the threat to all of these Eastern European countries is from one principle source, the former Soviet Union, now Russia. The threat is not ideological but Russia's nationalistic desire to regain their former empire."
GJELTENThat first email, in particular, represents a point of view that has been expressed often, that it's not in the west's interest to reestablish a Cold War and put Russia back in the position of being an enemy. And I want to discuss that with all of you. But first, let's go now to Adrian Karatnycky who's senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. You're joining us by phone I believe, right, Adrian?
MR. ADRIAN KARATNYCKYYes, I am. How are you?
GJELTENGood, thanks. So what's your point of view? Ivo Daalder just laid out what he thinks should be the minimum requirements for a negotiated solution. The president of Ukraine seems to be quite determined to reach some kind of ceasefire. Andrew Weiss just quoted a report from him that says he is ready to announce it. And it appears that the conditions that he would be agreeing to fall short of what both Ivo Daalder has recommended and what others have recommended as well. Do you have any reaction to these news about a pending ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and Russia?
KARATNYCKYWell, I think, first of all, Mr. Putin has made it very clear that it's not a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia, but a ceasefire between the rebels and the Ukrainians or that Russia has no hand in it, obviously.
KARATNYCKYA kind of duplicitous statement, but nevertheless they are negotiating with the proxy representatives of the Russian state in Minsk tomorrow. I would say that Mr. Poroshenko not only tweeted that he's ready to accept a ceasefire. He also tweeted that NATO is giving the green light for individual members states to provide military and technological aid to Ukraine. And he tweeted that about 45 minutes ago, if that is approved and verified.
KARATNYCKYNow Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general, has not tweeted for the last five hours because he's in meetings. But nevertheless, Poroshenko came out of these meetings and suggested that that is the case. If that is the case, we can see an approach, a comprehensive approach that Poroshenko is trying. Both sides are suffering brutal amounts of casualties and destruction at this point. The Ukrainian forces have been pushed back.
KARATNYCKYI mean, really they have not surrendered a lot of territory. What they've surrendered is very important strategic positions that would've enabled them to capture Donetsk and Luhansk. And Russians have piled in, you know, hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces, howitzers, etcetera, etcetera into these cities, which means that to capture them would create an incredibly brutal and bloody urban war with huge additional numbers of civilian casualties.
KARATNYCKYAnd that, I think, is unpalatable certainly to Mr. Poroshenko, and more interestingly to the Ukrainian people. Because even though the country has become, I would say, more patriotic and nationalistic as this conflict has gone on, it has -- public opinion shows that there is a strong mood in favor of a ceasefire and some attempt to look for a way out.
KARATNYCKYAnd here, I think, we can see at least a short term tactic which is to say, you get a ceasefire. You begin the process of improving and upgrading Ukrainian military forces, not necessarily to retake these territories but simply to give them...
KARATNYCKY...a greater deterrent capability against the Russians and buying time for a coordination.
GJELTENOkay. Adrian, hold that thought.
GJELTENHold that thought. We're going to take a short break. We'll come back to you afterwards. Stay tuned.
GJELTENWelcome back. I'm Tom Gjelten, sitting in for Diane Rehm today. And we're talking about the NATO summit that opens today in Wales and its efforts to deal with the situation in Ukraine. And just before the break I sort of interrupted you, Adrian Karatnycky. You were making a point. But before I allow you to finish that point, I want to read an email to you and get you to incorporate a response to this email in your ongoing comment.
GJELTENThis is from a listener that goes by the name of Baltimore Psychiatry. And -- actually it's Amy who writes. She says, "I'm astounded by the one-sided picture of the Ukrainian conflict depicted in the U.S. media, painting Russia as the main aggressor here. The West forced this war by forcing Ukraine to choose between joining the E.U. versus continuing ties with Russia. What most of the separatists want is not actually separation from Ukraine, but fair representation in the Ukrainian government and the right to elect their own local officials.
GJELTEN"This is just what we Americans fought for in our war for Independence. No taxation without representation." She says, "The way out of this conflict is not by ramping up NATO's military forces, but by engaging in true negotiation and diplomacy with the separatists." Your reaction, Adrian?
KARATNYCKYWell, the fact is that the people of the Donbas control the Ukrainian government from -- for 7 out of the last 10 years. They had a corrupt president from that region. They had a leadership that was almost exclusively made up of people from the East. No one is denying that right as electoral contestation.
KARATNYCKYI would say that if Amy is concerned about the interests of Russians and ethnic Russians, who only represent now about 14 percent of the Ukrainian population, she should be concerned about why Mr. Putin lopped off a large segment of pro-Russian Ukrainian voters and absorbed them into the territory of Russia, thus denying them the ability to influence the politics of the Ukrainian state democratically. Ukraine is an electoral democracy. Ukraine has now moved towards being a political democracy.
KARATNYCKYIt is prepared to have, you know, free and fair presidential elections, except in those areas that were rebel-occupied. The rebels did not allow people to vote in those Ukrainian elections. Surely Ukraine is open to federal solutions. Ukraine is open to some degree of devolution of power over local government, local authority.
KARATNYCKYAnd I would say that Ukraine is even open to, you know, special arrangements with Russia and the -- and its economic -- Eurasian economic zone for specific factories and maybe even potentially regions to have a special economic relationship outside of the European Union Free Trade Agreement that Ukraine is on the verge of completing. So all -- so I don't think there's any obstacles.
KARATNYCKYThe point is people took to guns, rather than to non-violent protests. There were never more than a few thousand people out in the streets. And suddenly the guys from Russia with the guns -- special operatives -- came in. And suddenly Russian invasion forces came in and suddenly hundreds of tanks and so on.
KARATNYCKYThat's not a civic resistance.
KARATNYCKYThat's something very, very different. It's an invasion.
GJELTENOkay. Adrian Karatnycky is senior fellow at the Atlantic Council where he is an expert on Ukraine. Adrian, thanks so much for joining this conversation.
GJELTENI'd like to go now to Yuri, who's on the line from Tampa, Fla. Hello, Yuri, you're on "The Diane Rehm Show."
YURIHi. Yes. I noticed that the woman make a very nice speech in Estonia.
GJELTENIn Estonia, that's right.
YURIHe said that -- maybe making my speeches. He assured Estonians that NATO would guarantee the treaty. Obama, unfortunate, also stated that the -- despite the fact that NATO is a military alliance, that there's no military solution to crisis in Ukraine. Now Putin obviously doesn't think so. If Obama would send Ukrainians a few hundred Javelin anti-tank missiles, instead of military rations, the crisis in Ukraine could quickly be solved in favor of Ukraine, rather than in favor of the military solution the Putin is pursuing.
GJELTENI believe, Yuri, you are an Estonian yourself, right? You're from Estonia?
YURIYes. I use to be a member of Estonian parliament and I've…
YURI…written a few books in Estonia about Estonia's recent history. Now, instead of this nice words that -- about empty words. It -- Obama needs to take some meaningful action.
YURISending a few hundred Javelin anti-tank missiles would send a message to Putin that even Putin will understand.
GJELTENOkay. All right, Yuri. Let's put that Ivo Daalder who was U.S. ambassador to NATO. And what caught me in what Yuri just said, Ivo, is he's talking about Obama, about the United States sending military assistance to Ukraine. We were talking earlier about NATO providing military assistance. How important would it be for this to be done on a multilateral basis, as opposed to the United States doing something unilaterally?
DAALDERWell, I think the actual provision of weapons and, indeed even the non-lethal assistance that is already being provided, is done on a national basis. NATO doesn't have any equipment. It is -- it can take command of national equipment.
GJELTENThey can coordinate of course.
DAALDERBut I can't -- but I think, Tom, exactly, the coordination of that would be very important. It would be helpful for all of the NATO countries, even if not all of them are willing to provide lethal assistance, for all of the NATO countries to coordinate their actions with regard to not just NATO, but Ukraine. And one of those issues, which I think is on the table and ought to be on the table is the question of whether we should coordinate lethal assistance. If everybody provides the same thing that doesn't make much sense.
DAALDERWe should provide different things that are all helpful for the Ukrainian government, just as we're coordinating on the economic front, which isn't happening in NATO either, but it's happening between the United States and the European Union. So it is important to provide a sense that this isn't just the U.S., that this is all of Europe and indeed all of the Western world that is concerned about the fact that Mr. Putin has torn up the rule book, as President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron put it.
GJELTENAndrew Weiss, I read in the New York Times yesterday that you were part of a -- and of course you worked on Russia affairs under President Clinton. That -- I read in the New York Times recently that you were a part of a group that is trying to kind of lay out some kind of blueprint for a peaceful solution in Ukraine. Can you tell us about that effort?
WEISSSure. I think there's a long tradition in foreign policy circles of what's called Track 2 diplomacy, of when the official channels are not working -- and in the U.S.-Russian case that's abundantly the situation. Former officials and experts sort of start talking to each other and think about ideas. I was part of a discussion in June in Finland in which people said, you know, we're really worried about the collapse of official dialogue between the United States and Russian. What can we do to sort of help ease that -- the implications of that?
WEISSAnd then we got into a discussion of the situation in Ukraine, which is obviously front and center. The kind of ideas that we put forward were intended to help governments frame the big topics they're going to have to confront if they want a political solution. It wasn't a blueprint so much as it was saying these are going to be the elephants in the room. And it's proven to be a discussion that people I think are very focused on at the moment because they're worried about what's Russia up to. They're worried about what's going to be the long-term fate of Ukraine.
WEISSI think what we see right now is that people are tackling instances -- we talked at the beginning of the show on Wales. The reality that NATO is not going to save Ukraine. NATO is not going to ride to the rescue here. And we need to think about can we do things that bolster Ukraine's sovereignty, insure that these principles are indeed inviolate, territorial integrity, sovereignty, freedom to choose its future security arrangements. Those were the kinds of ideas and issues that we were tackling in this meeting, mindful of the fact that we have a real danger of further escalation and further serious bloodshed in Ukraine.
GJELTENHeather Conley, we haven't even talked about the Islamic State, about ISIS today, about the situation in the Middle East. You know, a former French defense minister had a column this week where he argued that Russia faces the same threat from radical Islam that NATO countries do. And that this is not a time to alienate what could be a partner in the fight against terrorism. What's your assessment of that argument?
CONLEYYeah, I mean for NATO the conversation, obviously, is going to focus on the threat to the East and Russian aggression. But the question of NATO's southern border and Turkey's very pivotal role as the unrest continues to escalate in Iraq and Syria, and what NATO can do about its southern border, instability from Libya, etcetera. So NATO's going to have two challenges, both to the East and to the South. This is really a profound moment of challenge to the international system.
CONLEYAnd I think that's how you have to put both of these crises in context. You have the rule book being shredded. You have non-state actors as the Islamic State, that -- rolling into territories, taking control, ethnic cleansing in some respects. And the question is, what does the West do about this? And then the second question, who, in the West takes this action? And in Russia, can you annex a territory? Can you invade a country? What happens when those rule are shredded? What's the response?
CONLEYAnd I think you're seeing the West profoundly challenged by how to respond to this great challenge from this -- from Russia. Russia has not been necessarily a friend to the United States in Syria -- has propped up the Assad regime. But yet we have cooperated in Afghanistan, NATO and Russia. So it's -- it is when our interests collide. I would not, you know, it is opportunistic.
CONLEYYes. President Putin has a huge Islamic challenge within the Russian territory in Chechnya and Dagestan, Ingushetia. And you would think that this would provoke a different response. It actually has not. So I think the situation's complex. The rule book is being challenged. And what will the West's response be to that challenge.
GJELTENIvo Daalder, what are your thoughts on that issue of whether we should have any second thoughts about alienating Russia as a potential partner in the counter-terrorism effort?
DAALDERWell, I think it's an important question. It actually goes back to an email question by Mike, whether a lasting peace needs to be done with Russia or can only be done with Russia.
DAALDERAnd I think the answer to that is yes. I think a lasting peace requires a cooperative relationship between the United States, Europe, Russia, just as an effective counter-terrorism policy requires the -- that part of the world -- the forces of order and the values that are protected by it to unite. The problem that Russia poses, both from a cooperation of counter-terrorism and from the question of how you establish peace in Europe, is that it's not a revisionist power. It is a power that is trying to upset, not only the status quo, but indeed the rule book. It's trying to tear it apart.
DAALDERIt's very difficult to have a peace with a country that on the one hand uses force for the first time since 1945 to change borders. And secondly, proclaims that Russian speakers, no matter where they live -- presumably that includes Tel Aviv and Brighton Beach -- are to be protected by Moscow.
DAALDERThose principles are so alien to the order that we have been trying to uphold since 1945, that it is only possible if those principles are abandoned that we can have the kind of cooperative relationship that, frankly, we need. We need it for Europe. And we need it in order to deal with the challenges that we collectively face from radical Islam in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
GJELTENAnd of course the idea of protecting your ethnic kin was one that we played out in the Balkans, where Ivo Daalder was actively involved diplomatically as well. You are listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And, Ivo, I want to go back quickly to one other point that Heather Conley made, which is the role of Turkey in this. And I believe that President Obama is meeting with President Erdogan of Turkey at this summit, in a private meeting.
GJELTENThere have been reports that Turkey has been selling oil produced by the Islamic State terrorists in Syria. How difficult was it for you, as a NATO ambassador to deal with Turkey? Which is a bit of a prickly ally, isn't it?
DAALDERTurkey is a -- that's a nice way of putting it. It is prickly and it is an ally. And I think we should start with the idea that it is an ally. It's a very important ally. It sits really at the cusp of where this -- all this instability takes place. After all, it's got large parts of its territory in the Caucasus'. It's not that far from Ukraine. It is a shore power in the Black Sea. In fact the only way to get into the Black Sea is to go through Turkey, Turkish territorial waters.
DAALDERAnd, of course, it is a neighbor of Syria and Iraq, as well as a very close to Libya and the rest of North Africa. So having a positive, strong relationship with Turkey for the United States, and indeed for Europe, is extraordinarily important to address all of these challenges. For whatever one might say about Turkey, it is still a democracy. It is still willing to live by the main rules of the road. It may have different views on certain issues when it comes to Israel or others that are difficult to deal with, but it is an ally. It is part of…
DAALDER…the NATO alliance, has been since 1955. And therefore, a strong, U.S.-Turkish, European-Turkish relationship is extremely important for our security.
GJELTENLet's go now to Adam, who's on the line from Illinois. Hello, Adam. You're on "The Diane Rehm Show."
ADAMHi. I had a question and comment generally. So first I wanted to say that I think that the United States is sort of very willing to use military force for police actions against countries that can't defend themselves. And, you know, I'm opposed to the wars in Iraq. And I was opposed to our actions in Libya. And yet, when it comes to a real geopolitical threat, which I believe Russia poses, we're not willing to stand up and show the force we need to stop them.
ADAMI think if Ronald Reagan had been president we would have seen a fleet, you know, on its way there with a call to Russia. And, you know, I think that's the right response because, honestly, Russia and Vladimir Putin's actions lately draw a lot of parallels to, frankly, Hitler and the start of World War II.
GJELTENOkay. Let's put that question to Andrew Weiss, because we're nearing the end of the hour. A lot of weariness about military action in this country right now.
WEISSI think there's no doubt that the president and his response to Ukraine embodies that weariness, in a sense, that the U.S. should not, you know, should be very careful about how we use our military and not being rushing to basically use military mechanisms to solve every problem. I think we've got a possible diplomatic opening in the crisis in Ukraine that's come about just in the last 24 hours or so. And the arrival of a new U.S. ambassador in Moscow today creates some possibilities to do more on the diplomatic track.
WEISSWhether we do that or whether we decide, basically, to throw up our hands and say you can't fix this, Ukraine and -- is, you know, is lost and Putin is just too dangerous for us to respond, you know, I fear that we're on a spot where, you know, we don't all -- we all don't want to be. And we're, you know, Putin is not going anywhere. This is a person who's, you know, basically going to stay in power, potentially for a long period to come. We need to figure out a way to deter him, to keep Russian aggression from creating new facts on the ground throughout the post-Soviet space.
GJELTENAre you going to continue this effort that you began with other people in Finland?
WEISSVery much hope to do that.
GJELTENWell, we have a lot of challenges to deal with as a country and as a member of the NATO alliance. And that's what President Obama and his fellow leaders are doing in Wales right now. We've been talking about those challenges in this hour of "The Diane Rehm Show." Excuse me. My guests from Chicago have been Ivo Daalder, where he's president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He was previously ambassador to NATO for the United States.
GJELTENAlso here in the studio, Andrew Weiss, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Heather Conley, senior fellow and director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. We were joined earlier from Berlin by Joerg Forbrig, Transatlantic fellow for the -- at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and also with Adrian Karatnycky, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. I'd like to thank all our guests. Thanks for listening. I'm Tom Gjelten sitting in for Diane Rehm.
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