EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 28, 2014

Letter: Small countries can't rely on promises of others

To the editor:

Regarding the column, “West must push back on Ukraine,” from the Chicago Tribune (April 22), I hope that Iran and North Korea aren’t paying close attention what Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing to Ukraine, because he is proving that even countries that aren’t ruled by delusional paranoids need the ultimate means of defending not only their regimes but also their nations.

Ukraine had nuclear weapons, including missiles to deliver them, as a legacy of the breakup of the Soviet Union back in 1991, but the United States, the British and the Russians guaranteed to defend Ukraine independence and its territorial integrity as part of a deal to give them up. Russian aggression and American-lead Western fecklessness have shown what that’s worth.

I admit that I don’t know what we should do to stop Putin. “Getting tough” would only mean acting tough, and show that we are a paper tiger. As well, doing so would almost certainly further provoke Putin rather than intimidate him.

But clearly it would be madness to send the message that small and medium-sized nations need horrific deterrents to survive or to avoid piecemeal partition by bullies like Putin.

Putin has put the other 13 nations that used to belong to the Soviet Union on notice that he doesn’t recognize their full independence or the settlement after the 1991. But what of Finland and Mongolia, which also share long borders with Russia? Finland was part of the Czarist empire and Mongolia was dominated by the Soviet Union.

The leaders of Iran, North Korea, and several other nations think the U.S. is a bully too, of course.

As well, many of the world’s nations have regional rivals. Russia gave Ukraine its freedom only 23 years ago, so nations can’t know when a generous friend won’t suddenly become a deadly enemy.

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