What do the Ukrainians think of Poland?

Opinion: Putin is scratching the credibility of NATO

Vladimir Putin will not attack Ukraine by land, but will take or block the ports from the Black Sea and create an land corridor that connects Crimea with Russia. NATO will criticize this approach, but not intervene. After all, Ukraine is not a member of the alliance and therefore does not fall under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which guarantees its members mutual defense. This is the essence of a comment on Bloomberg by US Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO commander in chief in Europe.

It is possible that the regional initiative of B9, the nine Eastern NATO partners, discussed a similar scenario at the virtual meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Joe Biden this week. After Putin's military "exercises" on the Ukrainian border in April, no possible scenario should be ignored. Official voices in Ukraine say there are still large numbers of troops in the immediate vicinity of the country, although the military exercises at the border are officially over.

How Much Pressure does the Kremlin need?

The B9s were launched in 2014 on the initiative of Romania and Poland as a result of Putin's annexation of Crimea. Other members are Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. Although Hungary and Bulgaria are known for a gentler stance towards Putin's Russia than any other country, the group as a whole stands for an approach of maximum pressure on the Kremlin.

Some allies, including Germany and France, view this bloc as too militant and are more cautious in their own approach to Russia. But after the Kremlin's war games in April and reports of Russia's involvement in sabotage in the Czech Republic, the Central European and Baltic states can now say, "You guys? We told you right away."

The fact that Joe Biden met with Jens Stoltenberg and the B9 initiative has secured the group the attention of the most important NATO member: the USA. During his recent visit to Kiev, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged Ukraine to increase US arms deliveries. He also indicated that the country could potentially get global partner status as well. An honor that is bestowed only on particularly proven partners such as South Korea, Australia and Jordan. If Ukraine receives such an "upgrade", Georgia will certainly follow soon.

Putin's red lines

Putin believes that no other former Soviet state should even dream of joining NATO. That is his "red line". And he pulls this even more sharply because he associates his personal prestige with the rebuilding of the Soviet superpower status and the military muscle play has a positive PR effect on the so-called "Putin majority" in Russia.

Ever since Putin held his pseudo-referendum last year, which now allows him to rule until 2036, NATO has had to look to Moscow's geostrategic ambitions. Even if the Black Sea is repeatedly named a region with priority, there is no discernible strategy of the Alliance. The fact is, Ukraine (and Georgia) will not stop knocking on NATO.

Konstantin Eggert is a Russian journalist

The Ukrainian military has gained experience in the seven years of confrontation with the Russian armed forces. With access to US weapons, they are now much better equipped and trained. Your officers receive regular training in NATO countries. Political control of the military is broadly in line with NATO standards. The frequently cited requirement of an accession candidate that it should not have any territorial disputes with its neighbors is regarded as important, but is not a formal requirement in the alliance's founding document - the Washington Treaty of 1949.

Leave future allies at the door?

As the Soviet Union fades from historical memory, Ukrainian political and military leaders will increasingly insist that joining NATO is the only real guarantee of national security. And since Ukrainians and Georgians were promised future membership at the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, it has become increasingly difficult for the alliance to both appease Russia and leave its future allies at the door.

As someone who is seen as unpredictable, Putin may well decide to launch a "preventive strike" against Ukraine. And given the strong growth of the Ukrainian armed forces, this could trigger a war on the Black Sea, the extent of which cannot be compared with the conflict of 2014-2015.

Such a war would hit global markets and end the shaky stability on NATO's southern flank. Should Ukraine be defeated - a clear possibility given the unequal balance of power - the Kremlin would become the dominant power on the Black Sea. And after many years of cooperation with Kiev, it would also be a defeat for NATO. But above all, it would split and severely weaken the alliance, which the B9 has been raising the alarm for for years. Such an outcome would be the greatest victory for Putin.