West should eliminate 'gray' security zones post-Ukraine victory, Volker says
Ukraine needs to win in its defensive war against Russia, and then the West needs to eliminate gray areas that have proven to be a temptation for attack
This was stated by former US Ambassador to NATO, former Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker during a conversation with the media, Espreso reports.
"NATO's task is to ensure the security and defense of its members, as well as to deter attacks on members. I don't believe that NATO can do this job without Ukraine, because we see that if Putin defeats Ukraine, he will go on and attack somewhere else, and then we will have an eternal war in Europe. We need Ukraine to win in its defense against Russia, and then we need to eliminate these gray areas that have proven to be a temptation (for attack - ed.)," he said.
The diplomat added that gray zones are green lights, and "we have to make them red lines."
"To say: no, all these territories are now under one umbrella, and you attack them at your own risk. That's what we need to convey, I don't think there is any way for NATO to restore security and peace in Europe without that. We have not achieved that yet," Volker said.
He emphasized that NATO people are concerned about two things.
"They are concerned that a country will receive Article 5 (collective defense commitment) while the war is ongoing. Doesn't this mean that we are all now at war with Russia, and this, in turn, threatens to escalate, up to the possible use of nuclear weapons? The other thing that worries NATO is how you deal with a situation where a country that does not control all of its own territory joins. It will have a security guarantee under Article 5, but it does not control the borders. If the territory is taken back by its military, does this draw us into a war that we did not choose? This is what NATO countries are hesitating about now, and without any evolution in thinking, there can be no answer to the question of when Ukraine will join. The problem with that answer is that it is an incentive for Russia to continue the war, because then you will never join NATO, and we don't want to create that incentive. My advice is to read the North Atlantic Treaty. Article 5 is a key article of collective defense, and all it says is that if one NATO member is attacked, all allies will respond in a certain way, and then we all gather in NATO to discuss what that response will be," the diplomat believes.
In his opinion, the West should not get hung up on the idea that NATO ground forces will fight on the front lines against Russian troops in Ukraine.
"Read Article 5, and then sit down with Ukrainians at the NATO-Ukraine Council and talk about what we are doing together under Article 5. And there are things we are already doing, like equipment, training and supplies, etc. There are things that we could do but don't, such as helping more with air defense; opening up sea lanes and protecting them so that there is freedom of navigation. We could do all this without Danish soldiers on the front line. Then the question of membership would be just a formality. And we could do it as soon as we want. Therefore, it is worth rethinking the meaning of Article 5 and stop hasty conclusions that this is World War III," Volker summarized.