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Israel, Ukraine and NATO

March 27, 2014

This article is a response to an Op-ed titled “Israel must stay out of Ukraine crisis” by Elyakim Haetzni.
Before I begin I want to make clear for the reader not familiar with my writings that the name Obavez refers to the US president who reminds me more of Hugo Chavez than of an US president.
TheĀ author of the op-edĀ made some very good points that demonstrate that Putin is not motivated by hate or negative emotions towards Jews and Israel but that he is rather sympathetic towards Jews and Israel.
I agree with the author. For the time being Israel should stay out of the Ukraine crisis.
At the same time it seems to me that the author is somewhat naive.
It is very believable that Putin has some sentimental feelings and even sympathy for the Jews and Israel BUT he also supports Syria and Iran (both deadly enemies of Israel) very strongly and even doesn’t care if the Iranians get a nuke.
He is not driven by hate but he is a cool strategists who acts in his own selfinterest.
Iran is a figure in his game against the West. He will not let his sympathy for Jews get in the way of his ambitions. If his actions are bad for Israel then so be it. He will not hesitate one second and do what he has to do to win.
Israel for its part will do the same and act in its own self interest and do everything for its survival.
Israel actually has a very strong card: Syria.
If Israel acts decisively in Syria this may even force Putin to stop his expansionist policy in Eastern Europe.
It may even come to the point where Obavez and Putin come closer again and try to negotiate a solution.
While Obavez puts pressure on Israel to stop its action in Syria Putin stops his expansion in Eastern Europe.
As far as Eastern Ukraine is concerned, the party is not over.
The current Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border seems to indicate that Putin wants to invade Eastern Ukraine.
How?
Perhaps he will play the Yugoslavian scenario. There is already an intensive propaganda campaign in the Russian media under way.
With the Ukrainians painted as fasciscts and nazis and reports about violence against ethnic Russians and Russophiles in the eastern parts of Ukraine.
There are reports of armed Ukrainian thugs threatening Russians. Whether these reports are true has not been independendly verified.
But one thing is clear: The Russian media deliberately incites hate and fear. In such a situation where national passions are high it does not take much to ignite an explosion.
Whether by a spontanious outbreak or through a manufactured terrorist attack, once the violence starts Russia will have the perfect pretext to invade claiming that the Russian army is in the Ukraine to protect the people and to restore law and order.
As far as the West is concerned Obavez already has made clear that the US will not act militarily in the Ukraine conflict and so far the US isn’t even willing to give Ukraine support in the form of military hardware thus turning the 1994 Budapest memorandum, which gave the Ukraine security assurances from the US and UK, into a worthless piece of paper.
Since Ukraine is not a NATO member NATO is neither willing nor obligated to help the Ukraine militarily.
In my analysis if Putin wants Eastern Ukraine, it is already gone to Russia. The West will not prevent him from grabbing the parts of Ukraine that he wants.
The real test for NATO would come if Putin thinks he can play the same game in other Eastern Europan countries which are NATO members.
Estonia for example has a 25% ethnic Russian population. If that happens all bets are off. Estonia will invoke article 5 of NATO which obligates all members of NATO to give military assistence.
If, and I stress IF that happens two things will be the possible result:
War between NATO and Russia.
OR
The end of NATO.
The best thing for NATO to do is: impose the strongest possible sanctions and support Ukraine with weapons, military hardware and trainers if Putin goes ahead and grabs Eastern Ukraine and whether he invades Ukraine or not NATO needs to put the militaries in Eastern Europe on a hightened state of alert and a military buildup must also take place (with deployments from other NATO countries).
This would be a signal that this is the red line Putin will not be allowed to cross.
Which moves Putin makes next does not depend so much on his actual strength or NATO’s actual strength (which is definitely greater) but on how much he thinks the West is willing to oppose him.
Going back to Israel, I believe that sooner or later Israel will be in confrontation with Russia. Not a direct confrontation but through his allies Syria, Hisbollah and Iran.
But for the time being, I believe that Israel should stay out of the mess in Europe. The mess in the middle East is already big enough.

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