//NATO collective defence for provocateur states?
„Az ukrajnai háború abszolutizálása – céljának megfelelően – jelentős morális hátteret biztosít az orosz infrastrukturális célpontok, személyek elleni terrorcselekmények végrehajtásához” #moszkvater

NATO collective defence for provocateur states?


Adapting the rhetoric of the NATO member states to their own national capabilities would improve the European stability and the morale of relations between European states in a significant manner. They would only choose war as an instrument if they could win it by their own national means. This is also true for Ukraine beyond NATO: it would have been better to comply with the Minsk Agreements and later sign the Istanbul Accords than to gamble on an unwinnable war by believing in the promises of unlimited support from other states. Those who have made this decision and helped to make it, and even escalate a bad situation, can pay the bills, but do not blame others for the consequences of bad decisions.

György Varga

„Az ukrajnai háború abszolutizálása – céljának megfelelően – jelentős morális hátteret biztosít az orosz infrastrukturális célpontok, személyek elleni terrorcselekmények végrehajtásához” #moszkvater

The panic triggered by the current results of the war in Ukraine is daily pushing the countries of the political West, which are at the forefront of Russophobia, to new escalatory steps. French President Macron is calling for troops to be sent to Ukraine, followed by Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski, the Czech head of state and the Baltic states, while Berlin admits that German generals, in an intercepted meeting on 19 February 2024, planned to destroy the Crimean bridge with Taurus missiles, not necessarily with German troops, but with the help of British, American and French troops working already in Ukraine. According to Foreign Minister Sikorski, there is no risk involved, as the Russians have tolerated the raising of the stakes, from helmets to tanks, multiple rocket launchers and to the decision to supply F-16 fighters. Is it possible that the idea of collective defence could mislead politicians in this way?

Thanks to the sanctions policy, the EU’s economic performance has declined globally. The „locomotive of Europe”, Germany, is performing particularly badly. NATO’s policy decision on the war in Ukraine – that NATO is not a party of the conflict – is still valid today. At the same time, key representatives of the political West, including the NATO Secretary General, continue to urge member states to support Ukraine, drawing no distinction between levels of support and military involvement. The situation is fragmented and, judging by communications in recent weeks, there seems little hope of resolving the contradictions.

„Perhaps the most important of these contradictions is the question of legal relationship between the declared anti-Russian actions taken at the level of member states and the potential Russian response, which should be clarified before the first Russian missile hits a European target: why should NATO provide collective protection to countries provoking Russia on a bilateral basis for national enjoyment?”

Without going into details about the causes of the conflict in Ukraine (2014-2022) and the war in Ukraine (from 24 February 2022), and the responsibility of the actors, I would like to highlight just one fact: Moscow and Kiev, with Turkish mediation, initialled an agreement in Istanbul six weeks after the war began, to end the war. The political West blocked the signing of the document, urged the continuation of the war and continues to do so today. The EU has not accepted any call for negotiations before or since, Ukraine has banned the possibility of Ukrainian-Russian negotiations by presidential decree (4 October 2022), and Washington has organised a coalition of some 40 Western countries against Russia in politico-military dimension (financing, arms transfers, intelligence sharing, satellite provision, international transport, energy trade, sport, communications, etc.).

The political West is eliminating the institution of neutrality from its roots: „whoever remains neutral helps Putin.” Constitutionally neutral countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Moldova have long been participants in the war process; ruling elites either unable or unwilling to resist pressure from the political West, prefer to ignore their own constitutions, with damage at the national level.

„The political West is hiding from its own societies the main feature of the war in Ukraine: Russia did not attack or sanction any EU or NATO member state; there was no direct reason for the EU and NATO countries to participate in the war”

When the US bombed Serbia, an ally of Russia and China, the aggression understandably was not accepted well by Moscow and Beijing, but they did not intervene and escalate the situation to near-war. The same was true in the case of Iraq, Libya and Syria as well. Thus, the global consequences of these conflicts have been much more limited compared to the war in Ukraine; Europe (the EU) and other parts of the world would have benefited from their lack of its internationalisation.

„The absolutisation of the war in Ukraine, its expansion with global impacts, has not served the interests of Ukraine or Europe, and in fact it has affected many international actors worldwide, especially the poorest countries, which have difficulty in coping with the unpredictability of global economic processes”

Ukraine was not and is not a member of the EU or NATO. These integration organisations have led their member states into combat by their own choice, voluntarily entering into the various dimensions of the war against Russia, constantly increasing the level of their involvement, and thus constantly increasing their own perceived state of threat as a result of the logically expected Russian reaction.

First helmets, then slowly the supply of all types of weapons, the mass training of Ukrainian soldiers, then the announcement of the participation of Western soldiers and the recognition of the participation of those already there, shows a significant upgrade; the escalation spiral is in motion. The result on the Western (and Ukrainian) side is disastrous, the US actor has become unpredictable for domestic political reasons, the project seems to be collapsing, and that is why the coordinators of the plan are trying to escalate the war with European actors – trusting in a miracle and in off-the-field means (regime change, carrying out shocking terrorist acts on Russian territory).

„Given the current results, the responsibility is clear: who has destroyed Ukraine and for whose benefit? Who is responsible for Ukraine’s losses after April 2022 – the blocking of signing of the Istanbul Accord? The West is running away from the answers and is escalating the situation by actively involving countries ready to provoke”

The absolutisation of the war in Ukraine, in accordance with its purpose, provides a significant moral backdrop for the execution of terrorist acts against Russian infrastructure and persons.  We have not seen a similar approach in the case of military interventions and acts of aggression by Western countries: in Western societies, we would not have accepted an act of terrorism committed by a Serb, Afghan, Iraqi, Syrian or Libyan citizen on the territory of the USA or any other Western country concerned, even if that person had (or still has) rightly considered the bombing or occupation of his country by the USA, Britain, France, etc. as unacceptable. That is still an act of terrorism and not an act of war.

State-organised, state-executed terrorism has become the norm in the West. The terrorist acts (against persons and infrastructure) carried out in the last two years have not been condemned or demanded by either the US or the EU to be investigated.

It is now out of date to look for Russia’s interests in blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines – clearly there is none. The political West at all levels has blocked the investigation of the largest ever act of terrorism on a human scale aimed at destroying infrastructure. UN investigation was vetoed; the results of the coastal states’ own investigations were secreted – certainly covering up evidence against the Russians. To confuse the background, the interests and the main direction indicated by several sources as a US plan and execution, the suspicion was shifted to the poor Ukrainians – with effective German intelligence and media help. The logical fallacy is ignored; why to support a Ukrainian regime that destroys German (EU) strategic infrastructure?

„But not much analysis has been published on the main issue: we are part of an alliance where it is not prosecutable to commit an act of terrorism against a member of the alliance if the goal is morally justifiable – fighting Evil in all dimensions. (The US has already sanctioned the construction of Nord Stream from 2019 because it has the right to decide from whom Germany buys gas.)”

The political West has given the go-ahead to launch on basically any Russian target – absolutizing the Evil One and legitimising the means to be used against it.

What would be the difference between the motivations of a Ukrainian citizen and those of the inhabitants of the countries listed above who have undergone similar processes, if we consider their attitude towards the aggressor? None and no argument has been made in recent decades that terrorist acts can be morally or factually supported. The political West, with its current permissive/supportive attitude, is creating a precedent that could backfire very hard in the decades to come. The successful Ukrainian assassinations of Ukrainian and Russian public figures (correspondents, parliamentarians, local administration officials), which Kiev acknowledged as targeted, the truck bombing of the Kerch bridge with civilian casualties, as well as the tireless support of the Western media for the „Russians are shooting the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant under themselves” chapter of the war, have gone unnoticed.

„The dismantling of international legal borders for war purposes has become a daily occurrence; in March 2022, legal experts in the German parliament defined the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Germany as participation in war. In comparison, German generals are currently planning the destruction of Russian strategic targets on Russian territory, while „more courageous” provocateur countries criticise the German chancellor for his weakness in not yet authorising the delivery of 500 km range missiles to Ukraine”

During the pauses between provocations by France, Germany, the UK, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the 450 million EU citizens are being threatened that „we must prepare for war with Russia”.

And they are right, because in the face of such provocations, one must be prepared for the fact that sooner or later the Russian leadership will see the anti-Russian military, economic, human, information, terror, etc. actions as a critical mass, and will consider some countries as participants in the war, reacting militarily to provocations that damage increasingly sensitive points.

If we look at the escalation of the West’s involvement in Ukraine and its sanctions policy against Russia (we are currently on the verge of the 14th EU sanctions package), we can quickly identify a group of countries that are at the forefront of imposing new sanctions and forcing the delivery of new types of weapons, regardless of the obvious direct disadvantages for the EU’s 450 million population and economy and the increasingly likely possibility of a direct NATO-Russian war.

„These ‘provocateur’ countries are rhetorically attacking with increasing force the member states calling for an end to the war as soon as possible, and their actions are almost directly implementing the Ukrainian leadership’s newest anti-Russian demands, be it about energy, markets, the transfer of new types of weapons, or just ‘simply’ restricting the freedom of movement of Russian athletes and artists in the international arena – by applying collective guilt on EU’ and NATO’ value based basis”

Everything is for the victory, with the increasingly obvious moral degradation of the political West; the old rules do not apply, the new ones only to Russia, because what is happening today is something that has never happened before in the human history – there is a war between two countries (outside the EU and NATO). The head of the EU’s ‘value-based’ diplomacy is at the forefront of promoting the slogan ‘let the issue be decided on the battlefield’. Something is not kosher: till now it has been the norm in human history to mitigate, isolate and not to escalate and internationalise conflicts with all their European and global consequences.

„The political West, and especially the provocateur states, give the EU’s 450 million inhabitants the feeling that Europe is under threat of Russian attack, when it is clear that the current level of confrontation between the West and Russia, based on the political West’s decisions in this direction, can be mitigated at any time, including by ending the war”

EU-Russian and NATO-Russian relations have been escalated by the West to today’s almost limitless levels, and the West can reduce the escalation. Not a day goes by without one of the 32 defence ministers, 32 chiefs of staff and 32 military intelligence services of NATO, now 32 countries in total, is making public their daily intelligence assessment that we are just about to start a NATO-Russia war. And this worrying news, strangely enough, does not prompt governments to be cautious, but, on the contrary, some of them are provoking Moscow’s tolerance even further. In other words, they themselves do not believe in a Moscow-initiated war, because they still see room for further escalation – assuming rational actors in the West, the developments of recent weeks can only be interpreted in this way.

„The solution is to return to rationality: states should pursue foreign policies whose consequences they can manage with their own national means. A state should not mask itself behind the capabilities of the 31 other NATO member states and provoke nuclear powers and macroeconomic players”

The prospect of collective defence gives some politicians and governments a false sense of security: the ‘gang effect’ makes countries confident which, without NATO’s protective umbrella, would certainly be forced to pursue a normal foreign policy, i.e. to conduct their foreign policy in proportion to the national economic and military potential at their disposal.

The normality of national foreign policy represents a foreign policy strategy and actions towards other international actors, the consequences of which nation states are able to manage with their own means. Today, this is apparently not the case for some NATO members; they extract their capabilities from those of NATO and their daily rhetoric reflects this. If we look at the role of the Baltic countries, numbering between 1.5 and 2.5 million, in managing the conflict in Ukraine and its war phase, we see that these countries are at the forefront of escalating the rhetoric of war without realistic economic and military capabilities.  They are at the forefront of sharpening the sanctions policy, of pushing all anti-Russian options to the top, and their initiatives directly affect nearly a billion people in NATO, while representing a ratio of about 1:1000 in the Alliance’s military budget and capabilities (zero capabilities in several dimensions).

„It is not sure that the Polish, German or French people would say yes to a timely and correctly asked question: ‘Do you accept the risks of further provoking Russia without the collective defence of NATO?’”

And if these peoples do not take the consequences on a national basis for provocations initiated by their governments, why should these consequences be taken by peoples who wanted peace in the first place and who have no responsibility to Ukraine for the escalation of the war so far?

All states have equal rights under the UN Charter. If Poland or Lithuania have problems and are able to play a Polish-Russian or Lithuanian-Russian game on a bilateral basis, then go ahead, follow the hawkish foreign policy announced by Foreign Minister Sikorski and Foreign Minister Landsbergis and deliver as many low punches as possible to Russia – we await the outcome with interest. It would be useful, however, to avoid the global cries caused by provocative actions at national level; ‘Russia attacked NATO member Poland, launched strike against a Lithuanian target after their troops had accidentally clashed on the battlefield in Ukraine. Russia, which attacked a NATO member, must be given an immediate and adequate response under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, using NATO’s full potential.”

„It must be timely clarified that there is no collective protection for provocateur countries”

It is perhaps not too late to draw attention to these ‘secondary’ issues before some politicians, without the above-mentioned consultation of their societies and without the real capabilities of their countries, decide to launch war initiatives with consequences for all NATO members which they cannot (or perhaps, in the knowledge of their capabilities, did not intend to) manage on a national basis.

Dr. György Varga is a diplomat with working experiences from the post-Soviet space. He holds a PhD degree in international relations theory and has taught strategic planning, security policy and international relations theory as a university lecturer. As a diplomat he had represented Hungary in Ukraine, as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Russian Federation, as Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova and as Head of the Observer Mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Russia (2017-2021). In the latter post, he spent four years before the war at the Ukrainian-Russian state border, running a 24/7 international monitoring mission with the tasks to observe and report in an impartial and objective manner on the situation along the border section, not controlled by the Ukrainian Government. He is a public member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.