During his recent visit to Washington, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with President Biden and a few members of Congress. One of the officials, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Ohio Democrat, presented him with a book, “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Toolkit.” Although this present raised eyebrows, one should give Ms. Kaptur credit. Almost immediately after returning from Washington, Mr. Zelenskyy said all-out war with neighboring Russia was a possibility. He forgot to mention that such a war would have great potential to turn into World War III and the end of civilization as we know it, according to many expert opinions. So, thank you, Ms. Kaptur, your present was appropriate and timely.
Apparently, Mr. Zelenskyy was encouraged by Mr. Biden’s words underscoring why Ukraine matters so much to U.S. interests. “Ukraine and the United States have a similar value system and the strong commitment to the fulfillment of a promise and that is a Europe whole, free and at peace,” Mr. Biden said.
That’s a dubious compliment considering Ukraine‘s value system includes government-sponsored corruption, radical nationalism and a neo-Nazi movement. But Mr. Biden, some of his family members and the foreign policy establishment might feel that way.
The meeting was held one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Ukrainian counterpart signed a cooperation deal at the Pentagon aimed at improving Ukraine‘s military institutions and capabilities. Since the U.S.-backed coup of February 2014, the United States has provided $2.5 billion in security assistance. Compared with over $2 trillion spent in Afghanistan, Ukraine is a relatively cheap instrument to weaken Russia, in Washington‘s view.
The Ukrainian president said he felt during the trip a “political will” for closer defense cooperation and called again for a pathway to NATO entry.
Mr. Zelenskyy had no previous foreign policy or military experience. He was a comic actor whose job was to entertain the audience, sometimes with political jokes and even by dropping his pants. He won election in a landslide victory by promising to end the conflict in the Donbas and bring peace to war-weary people.
His Servant of People political party gained an overwhelming majority in the Rada (parliament), opening the road to peace, but Mr. Zelenskyy betrayed his electorate. The road map to peace exists, as meticulously prescribed in the Minsk accords approved by United Nations Security Council.
Instead, Mr. Zelenskyy is begging for money and weapons, trying to drag America into suicidal war with Russia. His efforts to bring Ukraine into NATO, an organization that French President Emmanuel Macron called brain-dead, are not just pathetic but also extremely dangerous.
In December, as a part of Christmas wishes, I wrote in this paper that it’s time NATO transforms into IATO — the International Anti-Terrorist Organization — comprising the U.S., the European Union, Russia, China and other willing nations. It would be a well-armed rapid response force ready to liquidate terrorist threats in any part of the world.
With its expansionist mood and insatiable financial appetite, NATO is a problem for, rather than a solution to, the world’s security. IATO would move the world from confrontation to much-needed cooperation on a fraction of NATO’s budget.
Mr. Zelenskyy disagrees. He keeps knocking at the obsolete alliance’s door, complaining that “We have not received a direct position on Ukraine‘s accession to NATO, but Ukraine has been ready for a long time.”
Mr. Zelenskyy‘s situation is more complicated because he is effectively controlled by Ukraine‘s version of the Taliban, a combination of radical nationalists and neo-Nazis who control the media and streets. At the same time, he has strong support within the Swamp, the Blob, MICIMATT, choose your acronym for the body actually running U.S. foreign policy these days.
A U.S. ambassador to Moscow during the Reagan era, Jack Matlock, knows how to resolve this crisis. In Time magazine, he said: “Like it or not, Ukraine is almost certainly better off without Crimea than with it. Nothing weakens a nation more than holding territory whose residents prefer to belong to another country. The premises of a solution to the Ukrainian mess are clear: 1) A new constitution should provide for a federal structure of government giving at least as many rights to its provinces as American states have; 2) The Russian language must be given equal status with Ukrainian; and 3) There must be guarantees that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO, or any other military alliance that excludes Russia.”
Since we keep hearing about the importance of linking values to foreign policy, one wonders how Mr. Matlock’s ideas contradict with Western or, on a larger scale, Judeo-Christian values. What contradicts these values are Washington‘s and Brussels’ attempts to turn into enemies two Orthodox Christian nations closely linked by centuries-old family, religious, economic and cultural ties.
The road to peace in Ukraine and prevention of what former Sen. Sam Nunn called “sleepwalking into nuclear catastrophe” lies in fulfilling the Minsk accords and leaving Crimea to its people. In that case, we could find a peaceful resolution.
The other option is too scary. Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said such an option would “destroy the world and the global economy. It will be bad for everyone, and we have to ensure that we do not go down that path.”
Why not poll the American people on which option they prefer?
•Edward Lozansky is president of American University in Moscow.
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