Tags: NATO | Russia | Bolton | Putin

Bolton: NATO Still Key to Deterring Moscow

Image: Bolton: NATO Still Key to Deterring Moscow

By    |   Monday, 28 Apr 2014 05:47 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions against Ukraine should serve as a lesson on how Western weakness emboldens potential aggressors, according to John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In April 2008, a NATO summit in Bucharest  rejected President Bush’s proposal to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO – a critical mistake which conveyed precisely the wrong message to the Kremlin, Bolton writes in The Weekly Standard.

Although the Europeans and the Western media blamed the Bucharest debacle on Bush’s unpopularity resulting from the Iraq war, the real reason was Europe’s fear of angering Putin and triggering a cutoff of Russian oil and gas.

Moscow has long understood such “Western cowardice,” Bolton writes. Just four months later, Russia bombed Georgia and dispatched troops to within 30 miles of the capital, Tbilisi. But faced with a response from the Bush Administration “that looks robust compared with our reaction today in Ukraine,” Putin withdrew to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two regions it most wanted to seize from Georgia in the first place, Bolton says.

After taking office in 2009, Obama made one mistake after another in his approach to Moscow, according to Bolton. These ranged from nixing national missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic to relying on Russian diplomacy to eliminate Iranian nuclear weapons programs and to oust Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. But Moscow never had any real intention of helping Obama and the United States.

Obama “left Ukraine and Georgia to fend for themselves,” leaving open “the vulnerability that Bush had tried to close in April 2008” by bringing Kiev and Tbilisi into NATO. Leaving Ukraine and Georgia “in a no-man’s land between NATO and Russia was an invitation to meddling by Moscow, and ultimately to chaos and conflict,” Bolton adds.

As for the Europeans, they are growing even more dependent on Russian energy supplies.

While European timidity is itself a roadblock to a more coherent response to Russian aggression, “Obama’s own weakness has created a vicious circle” in which “European fears provide Obama with an excuse not to act, and the failure of U.S. leadership leaves Europe even more reluctant to respond effectively,” Bolton writes.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions against Ukraine should serve as a lesson on how Western weakness emboldens potential aggressors, according to John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
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Monday, 28 Apr 2014 05:47 PM
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