The News Letter editorial of February 25 (‘Russian invasion met with local political consensus against it’) rightly highlighted the agreement across the political spectrum in the United Kingdom - including the Northern Ireland parties - condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While condemnation of the Russian invasion is, obviously, welcome, condemnation alone cannot be regarded as an appropriate response to the use of force to occupy a sovereign, independent European state and overthrow its democratic government.
As the President of Ukraine has said — while Russian tanks approached Kyiv — his country needs the support of partners and allies beyond strong words, including military aid.
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The fact that the sovereign and democratic Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — much smaller than Ukraine — have not been victims of the Putin regime’s irredentist nationalist project is solely because they are members of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), with the other members of the alliance bound to defend them in the face of any aggression (Pictured Boris Johnson with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg this month to discuss Ukraine)
The failure to extend Nato membership to Ukraine, and Putin’s judgement that key Nato members lacked the moral and political courage to protect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty, has resulted in invasion, with the aim of occupation, dismemberment, and the installation of a puppet regime.
It is notable that in the response of some local parties to the Russian invasion, mention of Nato was entirely absent.
This failure goes to the heart of why Ukraine is now experiencing the violence of Russian nationalist ambitions. Ukrainian sovereignty and independence was fatally compromised by the failure to actively extend Nato membership.
Ukrainian sovereignty and independence will not be restored without Nato members supplying its brave armed forces with the military aid the Ukrainian government has requested.
When restored, Ukrainian sovereignty and independence will not be protected against further aggression without Nato membership.
For half a century, it was Nato which protected the Western European democracies from the expansionist ambitions of Soviet tyranny.
Now, in a new century, Nato has a new mission, to protect European democracies from an authoritarian nationalist regime and its desire to violently reorder the map of Europe.
Those local parties which have condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but have failed to support Nato (or, indeed, in some cases actively campaign against Nato) must be challenged.
As the Ukrainians heroically struggle against immense odds to protect their independence and sovereignty, the lesson is painfully clear: to talk about the security of the European democracies without recognising Nato’s central role in protecting that security is a dangerous delusion.
Brian Crowe, Lisburn