Ukraine, which already for the fourth year suffers from the military aggression in the East, cannot dynamically develop both economically and politically. Therefore, such key concepts as security and peace are becoming increasingly important for Ukraine.
The Diplomat Magazine spoke with the global security experts – former US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Supreme Allied Commander Europe Wesley Clark, on the conflict settlement in the East of the State, the ways of returning the annexed territories, support of the world community in these crucial issues of today for Ukraine.
Since the first days of the war in the East of Ukraine, Ashton Carter said that the main efforts of the international community should be focused on exerting economic and political pressure on Russia.
Mr. Carter is confident that the future of Ukraine in NATO will be very bright. He regards Russia as a global threat not only to the United States, but also to the world, therefore he fully supports the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine from the United States. However, in his opinion, this is not the most important point of the relationship between the US and Ukraine.
“Ukraine needs modern weapons and good instructors who can teach Ukrainian military. Public control needs to be strengthened. All this will make Ukraine much stronger. I cannot discuss the decisions of my government, but I would like to point out that you are part of a major eastern strategy. And we must be prepared for any action by Russia,” Ashton Carter is convinced.
The United States does not consider the conflict in the Donbas frozen. The situation is serious, it is important that Ukraine continues to develop its defense, defensive capabilities, armed forces, therefore, according to Mr. Carter, the United States and Western countries should continue to help Ukraine.
“We believe that one day we will be able to do more positive things with Russia. But in recent years of Putin’s presidency the range of issues that we could cooperate with Russia has considerably narrowed. War on the Donbas, the annexation of the Crimea, military activity in Eastern Europe, hybrid warfare, cyber-attacks, the problems created by Moscow in Syria – all this creates a not very good picture, and we all, allies, should stand together,” Carter says.
Wesley Clark, a West Point graduate, who served 34 years in the United States Army and the Defense Ministry, was the Commander of NATO forces in Kosovo, and even run for the presidency of the United States, is convinced that the Ukrainian army is not completely upgraded.
“The army showed good results in battle. I would like the troops to continue their work, but at the same time not to lose many people. It is a tragedy when one or two soldiers die per day… You need to achieve new level – at least one or two losses per week. There are the important things to do in Ukraine – the army needs to be modernized,” says General Clark.
In his view, there should be effective civilian control over the armed forces so that the community can be convinced that there is sufficient oversight over the ratio of the military budget and military efficiency.
Wesley Clark gives the example that even during the Second World War the US Congress had a committee that closely controlled the armed forces.
“You must attract foreign investment. For that you need political stability and the struggle against corruption. There are people in every nation who are trying to take advantage, including the United States. For example, the clerk was arrested for stealing $ 50 or $ 10 thousand. It happens sometimes, this is the human nature. But to speculate on war is another matter. When the US started to create its own armed forces, they ordered uniform, food, weapons, but those goods were of poor quality: the clothes were easily torn, the food was unhealthy for use, the weapons did not work. People were punished for that – they were put to jail. We disrupted speculation on war a hundred years ago. Now we have the contract system. This is a very transparent mechanism. In fact, it is impossible to produce goods and sell them to the US armed forces. Not because they should be cheaper, it’s just because we have special bodies that will check every lot, every item. I am convinced that we must move in this direction in Ukraine”, – notes Mr. Clark.
Taking into account his personal experience gained in Kosovo, Wesley Clark does not stand for a peacekeeping mission in the Donbas. He believes that this plan can only be realized when Chapter 7 of the peacekeeping mission starts working, which gives the UN forces the right to do all that is needed. Including the ability to go where they need, in particular, the right to cross the border with Russia for some distance.
“Of course, Russia is against. What are they trying to do? To stabilize the front line, put another diplomatic barrier for confrontation, so that Ukraine cannot control its borders. According to the Minsk agreements, Ukraine has the right to control its border with Russia, but Russia even will not allow Ukraine to approach its own border. This is unfair, this is illegal, we do not want the peacekeeping mission to specifically block what is unfair and illegal,” remarks Mr. Clark.
He believes that the best way to persuade Russia is to strengthen Ukraine’s economy, politics and military security.