During the UK’s EU referendum campaign, we were repeatedly told that Putin would welcome Brexit (UK withdrawal from the EU). The free world must prove him wrong. As a lifelong Brexiteer, I utterly reject the argument that links Brexit with Putin’s opposition to Ukraine joining the EU. Each nation must be free to determine her destiny.
The UK must use her new won freedom not to retreat from fortress Europe into Little England, but to lead by example, and campaign for freedom across the world. Nowhere is this truer than in the Ukraine.
The guarantee of peace in the post war Europe has not been the EU, but NATO. Brexit actually enhances UK’s world role; had the UK remained in the EU, we would have inevitably been drawn into an EU defence force, comprised of troops and armaments under its own command structure, separate from NATO. This would have reduced NATOs strength, and correspondingly encouraged Russian aggression.
To seek the cause of Russian aggression, we must recall two major events. In 2009, Obama removed the missile defence in Poland, which provided a defence against Russian incursion. In 2010, the UK Coalition government cut defences to perilously low levels, leaving the UK without 2 aircraft carrier capability for a decade, and reducing troops and aircraft. Critically, the Nimrod reconnaissance facility (which could detect Russian submarines and aircraft entering UK airspace, and scramble aircraft accordingly) was scrapped. These cuts must not only be reversed, but the free world must demonstrate the willingness to deploy these forces as a deterrent.
History proves that when the resolve of the free world weakens, the aggressors are strengthened. These three measures lent succour to Putin’s central ambition; to reclaim the nations of Eastern and Central Europe recently liberated from the Soviet bloc as part of his Russian empire.
Annexation of sovereign territory was a phenomenon we thought belonged to the dark days of the 1930s. Yet in 2014, Putin held obviously rigged referenda, which led to the annexation of Crimea. In March 2014, Russian forces invaded the Donbas area of Ukraine, and proclaimed these as Russian territory; this latter atrocity was perpetrated without the courtesy of a “rigged” referendum.
Fortified by their victories in Crimea and the Donbas, and the UK decision not to strike IS targets in Syria in 2014, Russia filled the vacuum, and intervened in the Syrian crisis, ostensibly by attacking IS. In the event, the Russians fought against the Syria Free Army, whom they regard as the main opponent of Assad, whom Russia regard as the “legal authority.”
Had the free world maintained its defences, Russia would not have dared invade Ukraine, annexed Crimea, nor intervene against Syrian Free Army.
In Syria, Russian ambitions must be checked by an international peacekeeping force controlling the humanitarian corridors in Aleppo. Any UN peacekeeping action is likely to be vetoed by Russia, so an alliance of free nations should undertake this role. In addition, the US, UK, France and others must combat IS at source, both militarily, and by fighting the cyber war. This will be the prelude to a true Syrian democratic government – without Assad.
Simultaneously, all efforts must be made to curb Russian aggression at its source, by realising the ultimate goal to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine – and Crimea. This means returning all seized territories back to the Ukraine.
Ukrainians must be given moral, political, economic, and military support to counter Russian insurgency in the Donbas. A moral victory can only be won by the Ukrainians, but the free world must play its part.
Firstly, the free world must rescind the NATO Russia Founding Act (whereby NATO members are prohibited from placing forces near Russia). Russia has violated this Treaty, and the free world cannot stand idly by, as it did when Germany violated the Versailles Treaty of 1919. This will enable the UK to locate an aircraft carrier (in concert with allies) to be located within striking distance of Russia. This is designed to act as a deterrent. The UK must act to reverse the 2010 defence cuts by cutting overseas aid.
Information is power. Currently, only Russian propaganda is broadcast in the seized territories. There must be free flow of information, so the Ukrainians can broadcast their message.
The seized territories must be controlled by Ukrainian forces and international peacekeepers, to prevent intimidation of voters.
Then, when these measures have been put into place, there must be free and fair referenda should be held in Crimea and Donbas to determine once and for all the wishes of the people of these lands. These referenda must be monitored by an international group – again a UN initiative would be vetoed by Russia.
The UK must work with EU nations, USA, and other allies to prevent the creation of a Russian oligarchy in the UK, by stopping firms buying up real estate in London, and investing in other UK projects. Visits from Russian leaders must be banned, and as many nations as possible must unite to achieve this goal. Critically, the UK is dependent upon Russian gas; in any confrontation, Russia could hold the UK to ransome. Security is a prerequisite for national security; the UK and allies must invest in all forms of energy to ensure energy independence.
Thirdly, once the territorial integrity of Russia and Ukraine have been restored, NATO must support Ukraine to join NATO – as her own Parliament overwhelmingly voted to do so in 2014. All countries should join, to forge the frontiers of NATO to the very borders of Russia. As any attack on a NATO member requires intervention by NATO as a whole, this will act as a huge deterrent to Russian aggression.
This strategy is vital to the integrity of Ukraine and Crimea, to the future of NATO as a moral force, to defeat of IS, and democracy in Syria. As Churchill said on 18th June, 1940, in the run up to the Battle of Britain,
“If final victory rewards our toils they shall share the gains – aye, and freedom shall be restored to all. We abate nothing of our just demands; not one jot or tittle do we recede….Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians, have joined their causes to our own. All these shall be restored.”
This is a strategy for Ukraine to join with the UK and USA, and other NATO countries, as an Alliance for Freedom.
Editorial opinion may not coincide with the views of the author.
The author doesn`t work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations