[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ARSAW — During her recent visit to Latvia, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany assured the Baltic states of German and NATO solidarity with them in the face of a potential armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia. As President Obama did earlier here, Ms. Merkel assured her audience that NATO’s obligations did not exist “only on paper.” She is expected to repeat that promise on Saturday, when she is scheduled to appear in Kiev.
Any assurance that something is indeed binding merely reflects the existence of doubts. In this case, the uncertainty is based on the absence of NATO soldiers in the alliance’s new member states, including Poland and the Baltics, which feel threatened as they observe Russia’s destructive actions in the region.
That absence is a longstanding concession to Russia, which fears NATO encroachment — one of the few remaining forms of control that Russia exercises over its former satellites. With the passage of time, this surrender of logic to geopolitics is becoming increasingly incomprehensible. Why should a country that is not party to NATO exercise any influence over it?
[infobox title=’READ THE FULL ARTICLE’]The International New York Times, August 22, 2014[/infobox]
Photo by Nicolas Raymond, cc, flickr.com
A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 23, 2014, in The International New York Times.