МОСКВА, 08 марта 2022, Институт РУССТРАТ.
An extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Alliance’s foreign ministers was held in Brussels on March 4, 2022, dedicated to Russia’s «brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of the bloc’s member states, the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Sweden, Finland and Ukraine were also invited.
Following the results of this event, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg held a press conference. It is of interest from the point of view of clarifying the alliance’s future plans in connection with the situation in Ukraine. When asked about the creation of a no-fly zone over Ukrainian territory, Jens Stoltenberg, in particular, answered the following:
«At the same time, we, as NATO allies, are responsible for preventing the escalation of this war outside Ukraine. Because it will be even more dangerous, more destructive and will cause even more human suffering. So, we have made it clear that we are not going to enter Ukraine either on the ground or in Ukrainian airspace. The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO planes — fighter planes — into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes.
And our assessment is that we understand this despair [of Ukraine]. But we also believe that If we did that, we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe involving many more countries and causing much more human suffering. So that’s the reason why we made this painful decision to impose heavy sanctions, provide significant support — stepping up support — but at the same time not involving NATO forces directly in the conflict in Ukraine.»
The decision not to participate in military operations on the territory of Ukraine was supported by all NATO member countries, without exception.
On March 4, 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the same thing, only more repeatedly: «Our task is to make sure that the conflict does not go beyond Ukraine.»
Thus, it can be stated that the issue of the US and NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine has been removed from the agenda. The only country that can establish a no–fly zone over Ukraine is Russia, which it has done.
This approach of NATO clearly upset the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky. His nerves just couldn’t stand it. Zelensky made a video message on the same day and said the following: «Today was a NATO summit, a weak summit, a confused summit. The summit, which shows that not everyone considers the struggle for freedom to be the number one goal for Europe. NATO deliberately decided not to close the sky over Ukraine.»
Then Zelensky made things personal: «All that the alliance has bothered to do today is to carry out 50 tons of diesel fuel for Ukraine through its procurement system. I do not know who you can protect, and whether you are able to protect your countries, the countries of the alliance: you will not be able to pay us off with litres of fuel…»
An interesting point. On March 4, 2022, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, following an extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU member states, said: «We will not ask Zelensky to surrender, to leave Kiev, we will not ask him not to fight.» It seems that according to the EU, Zelensky should die a hero in the defence of Kiev.
Let’s return to Zelensky’s thesis: «I do not know who you can protect, and whether you are able to protect your countries, the countries of the alliance.» As is known, the North Atlantic Treaty of April 4, 1949 has article 5 on NATO’s collective self-defence. It is now often referred to by US officials, emphasising their determination to ensure the security of their allies in the bloc on the European continent.
I will quote from this article:
«The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.»
Thus, the use of armed force for collective self-defence is an option, not an obligation of each NATO member country. This means that a member of the alliance can be limited to economic sanctions in response to an armed attack on one or more NATO countries, the use of armed force is not necessary.
Consequently, when such a situation arises, each member of the North Atlantic Alliance will determine the degree of its participation in collective self-defence. Some will be ready to join the armed struggle, and others will not be ready to do so, because they will not want to receive a strike on their territory with tactical or strategic nuclear weapons. A rather loose alliance is obtained.
This is what the President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, spoke about. If NATO has abandoned Ukraine, then it can also throw someone from the alliance members. By the way, in August 2021, the United States and NATO abandoned Afghanistan, effectively handing it over to a terrorist organisation. At the same time, Afghanistan had the official status of the main ally of the United States outside of NATO.
The decision of the North Atlantic Alliance not to involve NATO forces «directly in the conflict in Ukraine» is reasonable. It really reduces the risk of a full-scale war in Europe, which could escalate into an all-out nuclear war.
In this regard, it should be noted that NATO’s sober approach is based on a real alignment of forces. Russia, as in the former USSR, maintains strategic nuclear parity with the United States. At the same time, over the past 20 years, our country has managed to create the most modern strategic and non-strategic nuclear forces in the world. As of December 2021, the share of modern weapons in Russia’s nuclear triad has reached a historical record of 89.1%.
In the European theatre of operations, NATO has a significant superiority in conventional armed forces. At a press conference on March 4, 2022, the Secretary General of the alliance stated the following: «We are deploying a NATO Response Force for the first time. And we have more than 130 aircraft on high alert. And more than 200 ships from the Far North to the Mediterranean Sea.»
However, Russia neutralises this fact by having a sufficient number of non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons. According to open sources, our country has about 2,000 tactical nuclear warheads. In a special military operation in Ukraine, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation actively use, in particular, the operational-tactical missile systems «Iskander», which has a range of up to 500 km. This missile system can also carry nuclear warheads with a capacity of up to 50 kilotons in TNT equivalent.
It should be noted that on February 19, 2022, a planned exercise of strategic deterrence forces was conducted under the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which ballistic and cruise missiles were launched.
A number of Russian experts reported that at the very beginning of Russia’s special military operation against Ukraine, due to the failures of the Armed Forces at the front, the United States and Britain began to use their electronic warfare units on the equipment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In addition, it is possible that one of the Russian military columns was destroyed not by the UAF, but by an air strike, presumably by American F-35 fighters.
It is possible that this is why on February 27, 2022, by order of the President of the Russian Federation, the deterrence forces were transferred to a special combat duty mode. The United States and its NATO allies have received a clear signal that in the event of further aggravation of the situation in the Ukrainian direction and direct military intervention on their part, the military and political leadership of Russia is ready to use nuclear weapons.
Thus, at the moment, direct military intervention by the United States and NATO in order to prevent the Russian special military operation in Ukraine is excluded. External conditions allow Russia to complete this operation successfully.