The only way to assure the war in Ukraine is ended is for the West to negotiate on Ukraine’s entrance to NATO. Without assurances from the U.S. and NATO that Ukraine will not be admitted to the alliance, short of a Russian coup, it does not seem that Russia will stop the fight, nor will the West stop the fight. Politically, it would be too costly on either side for the leaderships to back down from this confrontation. So it must become politically feasible.
This is where the public at large, in the U.S, and in the NATO nations, can make a change. The conversation that we should be having with family members, neighbors, and coworkers, is that Ukraine should not become a NATO member. This would provide both motivation, and cover, for the political establishment to negotiate a way out of this mess. We would be doing many of these politicians a favor as it is likely there are politicians that are getting caught-up in war fever against their better judgement. Eventually, Georgia will need to be thrown into the mix as well, but one crisis at a time.
Why not prohibit NATO membership to Ukraine? How does Ukrainian membership benefit the West, unless there are darker designs on the Russian Nation which can more easily be executed from the Ukrainian perch? If the latter, then Russian fears of western aggression are justified. Otherwise, Ukrainian membership simply puts NATO at risk of having to defend another nation. Russia has opposed NATO expansion since the 1990 reunification of Germany. Ukraine is a particularly sensitive area for the Russians as Russia was invaded twice by Germany through Ukraine during the world wars. Russia suffered 27 million war dead during WWII. This is a big deal, not only for Putin, but also for a majority of the Russian people, notwithstanding Russian anti-war protest to the contrary.
Certainly the Russian position is understandable. Let me pause here to emphasize this discussion in no way justifies Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, war must always be rejected. The question is: does anyone believe the U.S. would have passively stood by if the Warsaw Pact–the former Soviet military alliance, had formed an alliance with either Canada or Mexico? We almost went to nuclear war with the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union attempted to place nuclear missiles in Cuba during 1962. We fought numerous proxy wars against Marxist, or otherwise, guerrillas, throughout Central and South America to prevent the spread of an ideology which ran counter to U.S. capital interest. The 1980’s Central American wars were particularly brutal on the civilian populations with atrocities so outrageous, committed by U.S. supported right wing governments and paramilitary groups, that I won’t sicken you with the details here. You can read about them in Noam Chomsky’s book: “Turning the Tide: U.S. intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace”.
The point is, we can state that nations should have the freedom to join whatever alliances which they desire, but it is not a virtue which we have practiced. This goes back to at least the Monroe Doctrine–established by President James Monroe in 1823 which states that foreign intervention in the Americas (Western Hemisphere) would be viewed as a threat to the United States.
The idea that nations should be free to do as they please is like your taste buds telling your brain that it is fine to eat two pounds of chocolate at a setting, meanwhile your teeth are falling out and your blood sugar is shooting through the roof. To satisfy one small element at the expense of the organic whole makes no sense.
This is where we can make a difference, by speaking up for the idea that NATO should not now or ever admit Ukraine and that Ukraine is to maintain a status of neutrality. Ukraine could be made whole, and satisfied, through the promise of economic benefits in the form of investment or otherwise, from both the U.S. and Russia, with proper attention paid to the balance of influence. This seems like a compromise in which all parties can generally be satisfied and is a small price to pay in order to prevent massive death, global economic collapses, and potential nuclear war.