Ukraine can be ‘new Korea’ – ex-NATO commander
Ukraine will experience a “Korean-style miracle” if it stops fighting, gets limited NATO protection and rapidly rebuilds, preferably paid for by Russian money, according to retired US Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s former top commander in Europe.
The retired naval officer offered a three-point plan for Ukraine in a column published by Bloomberg on Saturday. He argued that by halting the fight with Russia now, Kiev would be able to prevail in the long run.
“Ukraine will overtake Russia in a few decades in terms of gross domestic product, overall agrarian output, and certainly in the sense of being a vital, democratic society in which people want to live,” he wrote.
At this time, Kiev is in no position “to demand a complete Russian withdrawal from its territory,” Stavridis argued, touting his proposal as “a realistic scenario that will set Ukraine up for success over time.”
He claimed that while stopping hostilities would be a bitter pill for Ukraine to swallow, “Russian President Vladimir Putin will hate such an outcome as well.”
“It will mean he has obviously and fully failed in his objective of conquering all Ukraine,” he stated.
Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as part of a US-initiated proxy war against Russia, in which Ukrainians are sacrificed by the West to inflict more damage. The conflict could have been averted if the West had not ignored Russian concerns, or been stopped in its early months with a negotiated peace deal, the Russian leadership has argued.
The terms of a proposed truce, to which Russia agreed during Turkish-mediated talks last year, would have made Ukraine a neutral demilitarized state in exchange for international security guarantees.
Kiev rejected the draft deal and pursued military action with weapons provided by the US and its allies, after a reported Western refusal to endorse the compromise outcome.
Stavridis recommended NATO membership for Ukraine, but without Article 5 protection for Russian-controlled territories, writing that “any military action by NATO to restore full sovereignty would be a collective decision.” The same idea of limited membership was floated by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen last week.
Russia has called the expansion of the US-led military bloc in Europe a threat to its national security. NATO’s increasing activities in Ukraine were one of the key reasons for the start of hostilities, according to Moscow.
Securing funds for reconstruction early on will be key to the would-be Ukrainian “miracle,” Stavridis said, pointing to an estimated $300 billion of Russian sovereign assets as a possible source of funding.
Moscow has called the seizure of its money an act of theft and has warned of repercussions, should it be confiscated, as Ukraine and its supporters urge.