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Opinion: Why NATO should stay out of Ukraine crisis

Parankush Bhardwaj, Y2

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With Russia annexing Crimea, NATO is facing worldwide calls to step into the situation facing the Ukraine. But the answer might not be that easy.

The situation in Ukraine is very sensitive.  Ukraine’s economy is stumbling, and the country has had multiple debates about aligning itself with either the European Union or Russia. Last February, the situation exploded.

Despite popular support for a closer relationship with the European Union, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed a treaty with Russia. This led to mass violence, Yanukovych’s flight from Kiev, and the replacement of Yanukovych with Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Today, nearly every western European country and the United States recognizes this new government. Unsurprisingly, Russia does not.

Russia still believes that Yanukovych is the president, and in March it sent undercover troops to Crimea (a peninsula that is part of Ukraine) to call for a referendum on regional autonomy. Russia then demanded a vote to see whether or not the Crimean people want to continue being a part of Ukraine, or to be annexed by Russia. The “yes” vote was suspiciously high, with 97 percent of voters saying that they wanted to be part of Russia. This statistic has been considered illegitimate by western countries, with many allegations of fraud.

So what should NATO do? The options are complicated.

First, many fear that Russia’s move into Crimea is only the beginning of a further westward expansion.

Defense One, an online defense-oriented publication that covers the future of U.S. defense and national security, worries that Russia has an agenda for expansion into Transdniestria, a breakaway province of Moldova, a former Soviet state.  Whether or not Russia will expand after the annexation of Crimea is unclear, but the problem with NATO involvement in Crimea, according to Forbes magazine, is that involvement will lead to even more violence due to further aggression from Russia.

Second, there are many arguments that diplomacy would work with Russia. The Los Angeles Times writes that diplomacy could lead to long-term economic and political stabilization.

Sadly, according to CNN, the United States and Russia have no desire to cooperate, and Russia also has a strong history of avoiding diplomatic solutions, especially with the United States. However, the history of how the world dealt with Hitler shows that avoiding difficult situations is not a solution.

Although I believe that diplomacy is the best option, there is strong evidence that it is unlikely to work with Russia. For this reasons, I believe NATO should begin involvement with Crimea’s issue. Peacekeeping troops would establish a strong presence in the Ukraine to prevent Russian expansion into Crimea.

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Opinion: Why NATO should stay out of Ukraine crisis