Deny Former Soviet Republics NATO Membership

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. In 1955 the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellite nations formed the Warsaw Pact in opposition to NATO. In 1989 the Soviet Union broke up into independent republics, of which Russia is the largest, and the Warsaw Pact collapsed.

In the 1990s, over objections by Russia, NATO expanded eastward by granting membership to several Eastern European nations which had formerly belonged to the Warsaw Pact. Opponents of NATO expansion argued that Americans would feel threatened if Mexico and neighboring countries accepted membership in a powerful foreign military alliance which excluded the U.S. They reminded Americans that in 1962 the Cuban missile crisis was precipitated by the installation of nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba by the Soviet Union. (The crisis was resolved by the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba, and the secret removal of American missiles from Turkey.) In 2008 NATO further exacerbated Russian fears for its security by offering future membership to two former Soviet republics, Ukraine and Georgia.

President Putin of Russia has warned his fellow citizens that NATO’s goal is to surround their country with enemies. For several months he has used this warning as his primary justification for massing troops on Russia’s border with Ukraine, provoking fears of an impending invasion. Neither NATO nor the U.S. will send troops to defend Ukraine. However, both the European Union and the U.S. have warned Russia of severe economic sanctions if Russia does invade. In addition, the U.S. has supplied Ukraine with defensive military equipment.

Russia has largely adhered to treaties establishing strategic military parity with the U.S. Many Israelis are immigrants from Russia or Ukraine, or have relatives in those countries. We propose that NATO can calm Russian fears by promising to deny membership in the alliance to Ukraine and to all other former Soviet republics on condition that Russia will promise to

1) never invade Ukraine or any other former Soviet republic,

2) no longer supply military equipment or nuclear technology to Iran which threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and

3) stop cyberwarfare attacks against U.S. federal and state governments, businesses, and the public.


About the Author
Ted Sheskin is a professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Cleveland State University, and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, the Forward, and Jewish Voice.
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