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Statement by the North Atlantic Council following meeting under article 4 of the Washington Treaty
The North Atlantic Council has met at Poland’s request to hold consultations within the framework of Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which states that “the parties will consult whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of the parties is threatened.”
Despite repeated calls by the international community, Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to violate its international commitments.
These developments present serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro‑Atlantic area.
Allies stand together in the spirit of strong solidarity in this grave crisis.
We undertake to pursue and intensify our rigorous and on-going assessment of the implications of this crisis for Alliance security, in close coordination and consultation.
We continue to support all constructive efforts for a peaceful solution to the current crisis in accordance with international law. We welcome the ongoing efforts undertaken by the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
We will continue to consult with Ukraine within the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
We will engage with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council. We will hold a meeting tomorrow.
The Obama administration was clearly taken by surprise when Russia decided to seize Crimea by force. The real question, however, is why Obama and his advisors thought the United States and the European Union could help engineer the ouster of a democratically elected and pro-Russian leader in Ukraine and expect Vladimir Putin to go along with it? This remarkable combination of hubris and naiveté is even more striking when one considers that Washington has few, if any, options to counter Putin's move.
To be sure, ousted president Viktor Yanukovych was corrupt and incompetent and the United States and the European Union didn't create the protests that rose up against him. But instead of encouraging the protestors to stand down and wait for unhappy Ukrainians to vote Yanukovych out of office, the European Union and the United States decided to speed up the timetable and tacitly support the anti-Yanukovych forces. When the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs is on the streets of Kiev handing out pastries to anti-government protestors, it's a sign that Washington is not exactly neutral. Unfortunately, enthusiastic supporters of "Western" values never stopped to ask themselves what they would do if Russia objected.
There's plenty of room for finger-pointing and blame casting here, but the taproot of the debacle in Ukraine was a failure to distinguish between power and interests.Power is a useful thing to have in international politics, but any serious student of foreign policy knows that the stronger side does not always win. If it did, the United States would have won in Vietnam, would have persuaded India, Pakistan, and North Korea not to test nuclear weapons, and would have Afghan President Hamid Karzai dancing to our tune. In the real world, however, weaker states often care more about the outcome than stronger states do and are therefore willing to run more risks and incur larger costs to get what they want.
Unfortunately, U.S. leaders have repeatedly lost sight of this fact since the end of the Cold War. Because the United States is so powerful and so secure, it can meddle in lots of places without putting its own security at risk. United States officials tend to think they have the answer to every problem, and they reflexively assume that helping other societies become more like us is always the "right thing to do." Because we've become accustomed to our self-appointed role as Leader of the Free World, Washington is quick to proclaim redlines and issue high-minded demands, convinced that others will do its bidding -- if it barks loudly enough.
Russian President Vladimir Putin calls them his “brothers” — this group of burly motorcyclists who see themselves as road warriors fighting for the greater glory of Mother Russia. They’re known as the Night Wolves, and Putin himself has ridden with them on that icon of American wanderlust, a Harley-Davidson.
Even as Russia was preparing to send troops to Crimea to reclaim the peninsula from Ukraine’s new government, the Night Wolves announced that they would ride to the troubled region to whip up support for their powerful brother and Harley devotee.
Clad in leather and sporting their best squint-eyed, make-my-day defiant stares, the Night Wolves had a message for Ukraine’s anti-Russian dissidents: Protest at risk of your health.
Putin, however, is not the first political leader to appreciate the importance of physical intimidation.
Somewhere in the political hereafter, Democratic boss Richard Croker was wondering how much more effective his Tammany Hall enforcers might have been — if only they had motorcycles.
Croker ran the Tammany Hall machine in the late 19th century, a man who came to the attention of the party leaders not because of his dynamic personality or his extensive knowledge of the Constitution, but because he beat the daylights out of a legendary street fighter during a neighborhood picnic. He went on to become a gang leader — like another Tammany boss, Bill Tweed.
Putin’s relationship today with the 5,000-strong Night Wolves suggests that he is a serious student of U.S. history. Or perhaps he just is a fan of Martin Scorcese’s great film about American street politics, The Gangs of New York, which showed how intimidation was just another form of political debate before and during the Civil War.
Around the south and east of Ukraine, in vital cities in the country’s industrial heartland, ethnic Russians have staged demonstrations and stormed buildings demanding a wider invasion of their country by Moscow.
But some of the people here calling for Russian intervention are themselves Russian — “protest tourists” from across the border.
They have included passport-carrying Russians, like Aleksey Khudyakov, a pro-Kremlin Muscovite who said he traveled here “to watch and maybe to give some advice.” In Kharkiv, another Russian scaled a government building to dramatically plant his country’s flag — offering at least the image that President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces were being invited in.
It is clear that in this part of Ukraine, many ethnic Russians distrust the fledgling government, and some would indeed welcome Russian troops. But the events unfolding in major Ukrainian cities in recent days appear to match a pattern played by the Kremlin in Crimea, where pro-Moscow forces paving the way for Russia to seize control were neither altogether spontaneous, nor entirely local.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, let's confine. I'll start, and then continue. Do not worry, I will try to answer to the maximum.
First, the evaluation of what happened in Kiev, Ukraine in general. Evaluation can be only one - it's unconstitutional coup and armed seizure of power. With this, no one argues. Who can argue? The question for me is, to which neither I can not answer any of my colleagues, with whom, as you know, I have a lot recently discussed the issue of Ukraine on the phone. The question is: why is it done?
Pay attention, because President Yanukovych mediated by the three foreign ministers of European countries - Poland, Germany and France - in the presence of my representative (in such capacity, the Ombudsman made, the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation Vladimir Lukin) signed between the opposition and the government then 21st, then it is an agreement by which I want to emphasize this (good or bad, I just want to point out a fact), Yanukovych has virtually surrendered its authority. He agreed to all opposition demanded that he agreed to early parliamentary elections, early elections of the President, agreed to return to the 2004 Constitution, which the opposition demanded. He responded positively to our request and, on the request of the Western countries, especially their opposition, not to use force. After all, he did not give any illegal order by shooting at demonstrators unhappy. He, moreover, instructed the police to withdraw all forces from the capital, and they followed his orders. He went to the event in Kharkiv, as soon as he went to Kharkov, rather than to release previously occupied office buildings, and immediately took his presidential residence, government building and instead perform what agreed.
After I asked the question: Why? I want to understand why this is done? And so he passed, in fact, all the power, and he has, I believe, and I told him about this saying there was no chance for re-election. And all agree, all my colleagues with whom I spoke in recent days on the phone. Why was it necessary to engage in illegal, unconstitutional actions and to enter the country to drag the country into the chaos in which it was today? Until now, after wandering around Kiev, masked gunmen in arms. That this question is simply no answer. Someone wanted to humiliate, show your strength? This, in my opinion, absolutely stupid actions. Have, it seems to me to be counterproductive, because it's these actions largely swung east and south-east of Ukraine.
What worries us the most? We see rampant neo-nationalists, anti-Semites, which is happening in some parts of Ukraine, including Kiev. What do you say, the media are seen for sure, as one of the current governors chains, handcuffs chained to the square there are some structures, in winter, in the cold, poured water. After that, incidentally, was imprisoned in his basement and there is still tortured. What is this? Is that - is democracy? This is a manifestation of democracy? Incidentally, he was appointed recently as December, in my opinion. Even if we assume that all the corrupt government there, I think he even steal something did not have time.
And when seized the building of the Party of Regions? You know what happened? There was nobody from the party somewhere. Went two-three staff, technical staff, and one engineer said the attackers: "Guys, we release the women miss, please. I - an engineer, I do not even have nothing to do with politics. " He was immediately shot to the front of the crowd. The second person of the same technical staff were herded into a basement and pelted with bottles of "Molotov cocktails" and burned alive. It is also a manifestation of democracy?
And when we see it, then we understand that worried citizens of Ukraine - and Russian, Ukrainians, generally speaking population living in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. What worries them? They are concerned about here is a mess. And if we see that this disorder begins in the eastern regions, if people asked us for help, and a formal appeal of the current legitimate president we already have, we reserve the right to use all means at our disposal to protect these citizens. And we think that it is quite legitimate. This is an extreme measure.
And more. I want to tell you what we thought, and believe we will assume that Ukraine - not only our closest neighbor, and really our brotherly neighboring republic. And our armed forces - this comrades in arms, friends, many of them know each other personally. And I'm sure, and I want to emphasize here is, I'm sure that Ukrainian and Russian military servicemen are not on opposite sides, and on the same side.
Incidentally, that's about the very thing I'm talking about now, this unity occurs in the Crimea. After all, note, thank God, there is not a single shot and no victims except the hustle on the area that happened there a week ago, I think. But what happened there? People came and blocked the armed units, units of the armed forces and agreed with them that they must obey the demands and wishes of the people living in the area. There was no skirmish, never got shot, no shot.
Thus, the tense situation in the Crimea, associated with the possible use of the Armed Forces, she was just exhausted, this was not necessary. Only what need was and what we were doing, we have strengthened protection of our military facilities because they received threats all the time, and we saw that in the Crimea has tightened boevichki of nationalist organizations. We've done that and done correctly and on time. Therefore proceed from the fact that we in eastern Ukraine and anything like that is not necessary.
But once again I would like to emphasize. Of course, what I am about to say, it is not included in my jurisdiction, and we are not going to interfere. But we believe that all citizens of Ukraine, I repeat, no matter where they lived, should be granted the same rights to participate in the life of the country and in determining the future of this country.
I would place those who consider themselves the legitimate authority, hastened to the relevant procedures, because of the national mandate for domestic, foreign, economic policy, and especially the definition of the future of Ukraine they do not.