In the estimation of NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, today’s security environment is complex and fast moving, increasingly more dangerous and less predictable than it has been in a long, long time.
“We face threats from state and from non-state actors; from the south and from the east; from conventional military forces and from unconventional terrorist, cyber or hybrid attacks,” he said in his opening remarks at the recent Berlin Security Conference.
One of the threats facing the Euro Atlantic community today is Russia, and its aggressive posture in Ukraine. In a blatant breach of international conventions, Moscow attempted to illegally annex Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and sent heavy weapons and troops in support of militant separatists staging an uprising in eastern Ukraine.
The Euro Atlantic community stands with Ukraine, said Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. “We have given political, economic, and security support [to Ukraine]; we imposed successively harsh rounds of sanctions to bring Russia to the negotiating table; and we supported a diplomatic resolution to the conflict via the Minsk agreements and the Normandy talks led by Germany and France,” she said.
“Now we have to help Ukraine see it through. We must maintain pressure on Russia and its separatist proxies to complete the unfinished commitments of Minsk, including: the return of all hostages; full humanitarian access for UN agencies, NGOs, and government relief agencies; free and fair elections in Donbas under the Ukrainian constitution and observed by ODIHR; the removal of all Russian forces and weapons; and the return of the international border to Ukraine. Sanctions are an essential tool for holding Russia accountable: they must be rolled over until Minsk is fully implemented. And we must keep our Crimea-related sanctions in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine,” said Assistant Secretary Nuland.
That said, Ukraine’s government must clean up its own house, starting with reforming the justice system, cleaning up wide-spread corruption at every level, and stabilizing the economy and breaking the hold of corrupt state enterprises and oligarchs.
“Ukraine’s own people are demanding a faster pace of change,” said Assistant Secretary Nuland; “The best antidote to Russian aggression and malign influence is Ukraine’s success as a democratic, prosperous, European state.”