- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2018

As the saying goes, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

So, let’s state two obvious facts: Russia is aggressively using military force to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence. And Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko wants to be re-elected and is using the Russian threat to that end.

The recent incident in the Sea of Azov was manufactured by Ukraine. Let me be clear however, I am not saying Russia is not harassing and restricting Ukrainian shipping to ports like Mariupol. They are. But it was Mr. Poroshenko who sent Ukrainian warships into the area, in a direct provocation to Moscow. Moscow reacted — with force — as expected and several Ukrainian sailors were injured, and remain in prison in Crimea.

Mr. Poroshenko also used the incident to declare martial law. Please tell me, what good does that do for Ukraine? It is a publicity stunt, meant to bolster Mr. Poroshenko’s drive to remain in power.

So what does the Ukrainian leader do next? He calls for NATO reinforcements, of course — the cavalry to the rescue. Mr. Poroshenko on Thursday called on NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov to “provide security.”

Kiev also wants NATO to shut down the Bosporus, the entry to the Black Sea, to Russian naval forces. Madness.

It may not be a story you often read in the Western press, but Ukraine is a corrupt society, maybe even more corrupt than Russia. It is an oligarchy, and one that has close ties to Moscow, I might add. If the country’s elites don’t give a damn about their own people, and are in it just for money and power, why do they deserve our support?

This is why giving arms to Ukraine, and putting American power at the service of the government in Kiev is so dangerous. It is a moral hazard. Mr. Poroshenko is now thumping his chest and poking the bear because he has American weapons. Madness.

Americans are already starting to die in Ukraine, for Ukraine. A U.S. Air Force pilot was killed flying backseat in a Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 fighter jet that crashed while on a recent exercise.

I have respect for the Ukrainian people and their plight. It is an unfortunate situation that history has put them in. We are witnessing the final death throes of the Soviet Union.

I also have respect for the Russian people, and can understand how the specter of Ukraine joining the NATO alliance is a red line.

Simply put, this is not our fight. American men and woman should not be dying for Ukraine, no matter how much the deep state in Washington wants a war.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Our red line should be NATO borders. Russia should not have any doubts about American willingness to defend this red line.

Mr. Poroshenko also asked Europe to stop the Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which critics warn will make Germany more dependent on Russian gas. This is actually something that makes sense. But Germany refused, more concerned about making money and getting cheap gas from Moscow.

We can support Ukraine in many ways, financially, morally, politically. But pushing to bring Ukraine into the NATO alliance is an irresponsible decision, fraught with danger for our brave men and women serving on the front lines, who are worn out from the last two decades of war in the Middle East.

I hope the Trump administration will come to its senses and stop this madness.

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, The New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached at LToddWood.com.

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