NATO summit and Ukraine crisis, July 2023
It appears that Russian Forces have started their offensive in several places on the frontline since July 8. Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the offensive in Krasny Liman direction on June 11. Next weeks will be very interesting on the Ukrainian battlefields.
June 11, late afternoon the news emerged that in the Zaporozhye area only over the past day, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) lost over 200 troops killed and about 1,000 soldiers wounded, more than 20 pieces of heavy armor destroyed, including five Leopard tanks, eight Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and ten T-62 tanks.
It’s somehow grotesque that something like this happens at the same time as the top NATO summit is celebrating in Vilnius.
NATO Summit in Vilnius
US President Joe Biden will spend three days in Europe at the NATO Summit in Vilnius scheduled for July 11 and 12. The main topic will be Ukraine and where to go from here, other main issues on the agenda might be defense plans, defense budgets, Sweden’s membership and NATO’s partnership program.
Ukraine is pushing for either immediate NATO membership or actionable security guarantees from NATO. But Ukraine’s position is undermined by the failure of the counteroffensive against Russia, and the failure of its attempts – via sabotage, assassination and lethal drones aimed at the Kremlin – to destabilize the government of President Vladimir Putin. Now Ukraine is saying it needs NATO air power to be able to win its war.
Washington has already signaled that it has been unable to convince its partners about Ukrainian NATO membership. Behind the scenes Washington is trying to craft some sort of security guarantee for Ukraine. Germany plans to insist during the upcoming NATO summit that Ukraine should not be granted NATO membership. Berlin plans to urge other NATO members during the Vilnius summit that they should focus on security assurances to Kiev and not NATO membership, in order not to risk a war with Russia. The US, the UK and the EU are currently working on “Bucharest-plus” – a series of bilateral security offerings to Kiev – instead of offering Ukraine NATO membership.
Ukraine applied for a fast-tracked membership in NATO in September 2022 following the start of the Russian military operation but Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has on numerous occasions said that the bloc was supportive of Kiev’s aspirations but was not ready to approve its application right away, chiefly due to Ukraine’s active involvement in an armed conflict. In early June 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kiev hoped to receive a clear invitation to join the bloc at the NATO summit in Vilnius.
Just one day before the summit, Turkey and Sweden reached an agreement in principle on Sweden’s membership in NATO, which may be the most important achievement in the summit. The membership will materialize not before late autumn, 2023.
NATO allies reached an agreement on how the alliance could respond to a Russian attack…this is the first time NATO has prepared such plans since the end of the Cold War. The first attempts to harmonize these plans ran into a block from Turkey. This time, NATO managed to overcome the blockage from Ankara.
Jens Stoltenberg made a number of announcements following the first day of NATO’s summit:
- A new multi-year assistance programme to help Ukraine’s transition to NATO training standards
- A new NATO – Ukraine council will be formed where the alliance and the country will “meet as equals”, with the first meeting with President Zelensky happening tomorrow
- Ukraine will join NATO, when allies agree and conditions are met, and its joining pathway will change from a two-step process to a one-step process
Stoltenberg describes the announcements as a “strong package for Ukraine and a clear path towards its membership in NATO”. He also said that NATO wants to have 300,000 troops at high readiness and he expects the number of countries committing 2% of GDP to defense will substantially rise next year.
In fact, it appears that Ukraine will not join NATO either in Vilnius or in any city. NATO currently considers two options:
1. Pretend that Ukraine is going towards NATO membership endlessly through “reforms”. NATO will outline a reform path for Ukraine so that it can join the Atlantic alliance but without a “calendar”. The final document in Vilnius would not include either a schedule or a date for Ukraine’s entry into the alliance.
2. NATO may offer Kyiv security guarantees similar to those that Israel has. President Biden made such a proposal. Biden is to hold a meeting with Zelensky on July 12.
The creation of the Ukraine-NATO Council is another measure of support. This comes as a continuation of the Budapest Memorandum that ended fruitlessly for Ukraine.
“What really happened in the NATO summit behind the scenes”
Bloomberg is just reporting “shocking gossips” behind the scenes at the NATO summit in Vilnius. The question is of a hot-headed Zelensky and the growing Western backlash in the face of his obvious frustrationand what is being seen asingratitude for the steady flow of billions of dollars in arms to Kiev.
The harsh tweet he issued in English while en route to Lithuania exposed cracks in the alliance, as Bloomberg highlights: Volodymyr Zelenskiy was running hot ahead of his sit-down with NATO leaders on Tuesday evening. The Ukrainian president had been angered earlier in the day by what he said was an “absurd” reluctance to give his country a clear timeline on membership.
And things were even more tense behind the scenes, as Bloomberg writes: “Over dinner in Vilnius, with US President Joe Biden back at his hotel, the other leaders delivered a clear message to Zelenskiy, according to one person who was present. You have to cool down and look at the full package, Zelenskiy was told.”
Ultimately the hawks (mainly among the Baltic and Eastern Europe states) have lost at Vilnius. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has admitted “There was a lack of political will.” Thus, it appears that Zelensky’s angry, desperate tweet lashing out at Western partners was a last-ditch effort at shaming NATO into conceding to its demands of being immediately fast-tracked to membership.
Bloomberg reveals further, that “Crucially, it was the US and Germany that insisted on dialing back the commitment to Ukraine joining the alliance. Earlier drafts of the communique offered a clearer pathway to Ukraine eventually joining, but Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz were wary of going too far.”
“Their teams demanded changes in the final days before the summit, upsetting lots of the other European nations, as well as the Ukrainians.” Indeed, Biden in a CNN interview at the start of the week confessed the obvious: that Ukraine’s admission into NATO with the war still going would automatically unleash war between nuclear-armed powers – a WW3 doomsday scenario.
The New York Times’ summation of precisely what fell short in the NATO communique explains: “NATO declared on Tuesday that Ukraine would be invited to join the alliance, but did not say how or when, disappointing its president but reflecting the resolve by President Biden and other leaders not to be drawn directly into Ukraine’s war with Russia.”
Despite Biden’s best efforts to put a happy face on it, Vilnius will be remembered as the NATO Summit where tensions boiled over. Zelensky denounced the Alliance’s admission policy as “absurd” and disrespectfuland the circuit small rotates: UK Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace blamed Zelensky for ingratitude; Lindsey Graham attacked the Biden administration for weakness; Ben Hodges criticized Jake Sullivan for lack of “strategic bravery.” The optics were even harsher than the words, with the NATO elites turning their backs on a frustrated Zelensky.
Biden’s assurance that Zelensky is “stuck” with the US may come as cold comfort to both nations now that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed to meet expectations, huge amounts of expensive Western armor lay in ruins smoldering on the battlefield, Ukrainian casualties are horrific and the US has run out of 155mm artillery shells to give, forcing America to debase itself by sending cluster bombs. The war effort is increasingly ruined and the “War Party” is starting to turn on each other.
A picture is worth a thousand words, NATO summit has turned the back on Zelensky. The West sacrificed Ukraine and its people in an attempt to weaken Russia. They failed!
The picture here below tweeted by Kim Dotcom:
A Finn-German blogger Kim Dotcom has aptly described the NATO summit in his tweet, worth to read.
Another blogger’s comment here below. This is what happens to all western “allies” as the expiration date gets closer (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq …)
Closing the NATO Summit
Hopes of a policy breakthrough towards peace in Ukraine seems to have drained away, when the NATO-summit closed the doors.
There is general acceptance in NATO that the Ukrainian summer offensives in Zaporizhie and again now in Artyomovsk/Bakhmut have failed to break Russian defenses, with horrific losses in Ukrainian manpower and enormous destruction of Western-supplied equipment. The West seems content to let Zelensky go on wasting Ukraine’s increasingly scarce military-age men in a process described by writer Raúl Meijer as “NATO’s assisted suicide of the Ukrainian nation”.
Ironically, the NATO’s unspoken strategy seems to be: “we know Russia is inevitably winning in Ukraine but we will make sure we and our Kiev proxies destroy as much as possible of Ukraine’s manpower and national wealth before Russia takes control of the country”. The Kakhovka dam is gone and what is left of Zaporizhie Nuclear Power Plant seems increasingly at risk of Ukrainian sabotage. These two huge assets were the pivots of Ukraine’s industrial and agricultural potential and wealth.
The Vilnius NATO meeting produced no new miracles of salvation for the doomed Kiev regime. The only party, “officially satisfied”, was Sweden with the promise of getting membership but internally less enthusiastic, because at least half of Swedes longed for the days of neutrality and non-alignment, which have a history of over 200 years in the country.
An interesting short analysis from Slovakia emerged in Twitter just a day ago:
A message from Vilnius: NATO is provoking a bigger war with Russia. 6:07 PM · Jul 12, 2023
“The West is playing a cynical game with Ukraine that leads to the destruction of this country and nation. And the Ukrainians want to solve their problems with a bigger war between the NATO states and Russia.”
“The politicians of the Western world are walking blindly down the same path that led to the current war. They are promising Ukraine something that only means another war with Russia.”
Yet, a short video statement by Scott Ritter , “Ukraine is of no interest to anyone. Ukraine will never be in NATO. Never”.
Outlines for the near future
What happens in Vilnius will provide a road map for the future of the war in Ukraine. NATO agrees to step up its support for Ukraine, thereby ensuring the deaths of more Ukrainian soldiers.
If the possible secret negotiations behind the scenes will fail for some reason, the end result of the Ukrainian war is highly likely the total defeat of AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine) and with it also the humiliating defeat and probable disintegration of the NATO. This is the least bad scenario. The most horrific scenario is that the NATO (& the US) do not accept the defeat but add escalation to the last step facing the nuclear catastrophe.
In the US, only the military-industrial complex is doing well. American infrastructure continues to decay. The middle class is eroding and confused. The Democrats are the party of liberal imperialism & warmongers and the Republicans are still riven between warmongers and America-first nationalist Trumpians. Who will be the next US president and if he or she can stop America’s decline on the international scene.
Meanwhile, Germany under its incapable Scholz leadership is de-industrializing, following the loss of cheap Russian gas after the US-conducted sabotage of the NS pipelines. German industrialists are taking their capital, management skills and intellectual property elsewhere. France is riven by serious rioting. The EU is distracted and aimless. The entire Western Europe is dwarfing in the global influence scale.
When Russia wins military and political control over the ruined land of Ukraine, it will face a huge rebuilding job, comparable to the situation the Soviet Union faced in Ukraine after the 1944-45. But before that, the land of Ukraine will be divided between several actors again, apparently Russia, Poland, Romania and Hungary are the main participants.
It is likely that China, which is an increasingly important Russian partner, will also economically be a significant investor and factor in the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war.
Russia is steadily formulating a new “global constellation”, what it now describes as the Global Majority (what used to be the Global South). There is an increasingly long queue of governments seeking to join BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The Russia-China strategic alliance is the linchpin of this growing robust and intellectually confident ideology of multipolarity, which is attracting the attention of serious governments around the world.
Russia is now turning the tide of its own history since Peter the Great began trying to make Russia a member of the European Society. Based on many top Russian politicians, Russia will never trust the West again. The history of Western diplomatic track record since the 1991 end of Soviet Union has shown Russians that the Anglo-American agenda means expanding American global hegemony and breaking up Russia.
… and no one wanted to talk about peace but every party in the summit directly competed in fomenting war. In spite of all this, it is worth reminding “You get what you pay for”. If you pay a very high price for the war, you will get it and then, do not blame others.
- an unknown thinker
Guess, which country is the only European country today talking about “peace”. That is neither Sweden nor Austria, not even Switzerland … that is Hungary!