The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 24

the Russian Federation. Ukraine is only the latest and most dan-
gerous manifestation of the Putin Doctrine. It will not be the last.
Exercising Preventive Diplomacy?
The clarity of the Putin Doctrine meant that the current
crisis in Ukraine—or, more accurately, the crisis in U.S.-Russian
relations—was foreseeable. The 2008 war between Russia and
Georgia added an unmistakable warning, but its significance
quickly vanished among the “frozen conflicts” that littered so
many territories of the former Soviet Union.
Military force cannot be the first thing to come to the minds
of policymakers for handling such challenges. Preventive diplo-
macy—which the United Nations defines as “diplomatic action
to prevent disputes from arising between parties, to prevent
existing disputes from escalating into conflict and to limit the
spread of conflicts when they occur”—should be the first resort,
but it is exceptionally difficult to sustain. No government likes
to borrow trouble from the future, and democracies, including
the United States, are very poor at setting strategic priorities and
sticking to them.
The American stance under Presidents Bill Clinton, George
W. Bush and Barack Obama was that Moscow should have con-
siderable say in its neighboring states, and Washington should
not seek to supplant that influence. Georgian and Ukrainian
membership in NATO, for example, should not have to damage
their good relations with Russia. In the face of much evidence to
the contrary, successive administrations thought that Moscow
should understand that Russia
would benefit from having pros-
perous, democratic nations in
its neighborhood. The Kremlin
interpreted NATO’s November
2002 decision to invite seven
new members to join the alli-
ance, including the three Baltic
states, as taking advantage of
Russia’s weakness. The later
American decision to deploy
ballistic missile defenses in
Poland and the Czech Repub-
lic only heightened Russian
President Obama and Sec-
retary of State John Kerry have
contrasted their enlightened,
21st-century point of view with
the zero-sum, 19th-century thinking that has characterized Rus-
sian diplomacy. Putin was not persuaded by rhetoric, and the
West failed to formulate a new strategic or institutional frame-
work to match 21st-century challenges, although plenty of ideas
were out there.
For example, in 2002, the U.S. Institute of Peace Press pub-
lished a book titled
A Strategy for Stable Peace: Toward a Euro-
Atlantic Security Community
. It was written by a Russian, Dmitri
Trenin, a Dutchman, Petrus Buwalda and an American—myself.
We wrote that “Ukraine must solve its internal problems through
its own efforts” and “the stakes in the outcome of Ukraine’s
struggles are high, not least the progress of Russia and the
West toward a stable peace.” We called for “concerted national
strategies on the part of the major nations within the extended
European system.”
In defining these strategies, we argued that a detailed master
plan is not realistic, and that “governments should work with
building blocks already available to them, having their objective
clearly in mind.” The long-term objective, we thought, should
be the inclusion of Russia as one of three pillars, with North
America and the European Union, of a Euro-Atlantic security
community, sharing similar democratic values.
In 2012, a study of mutual security in the Euro-Atlantic region
was conducted, led by four distinguished statesmen: former
German Ambassador to the United States Wolfgang Ischinger,
former U.K. Defense Minister Desmond Browne, former Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and former Chairman of the U.S.
Ambassador James Goodby (seated, left) and Ukrainian General-Lieutenant Aleksey Kryzhko
initial a Nunn-Lugar agreement with the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in 1993 in Kyiv to provide
assistance for the elimination of strategic nuclear arms.
Courtesy of Royal Gardner
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