The Hague, 23 November 2014 – NATO nations must boost support to Ukraine and take a firm stance with Russia as a ‘very difficult winter’ looms for the government in Kyiv, parliamentarians and experts warned Sunday at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Annual Session.
In a draft resolution adopted by the assembly’s Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security, allied governments were urged to consider fresh political, economic, material and technical backing to help Ukraine protect its territory and build a strong and accountable state.
The resolution, which is expected to be adopted by a full plenary session in The Hague on Monday, calls for continued sanctions against Russia until it abides by international law and helps wind back all illegal territorial gains.
NATO should take a tough line, confirming that it will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and, the text said, that the Alliance’s door would remain open for further enlargement. Support for NATO membership has increased among the Ukrainian population and political establishment, delegates heard.
“This resolution should serve as an expression of solidarity with Ukraine in this difficult hour. It unambiguously condemns Russia’s violation of international law and actions that keep the violent conflict in eastern Ukraine alive,” said NATO PA rapporteur, Polish deputy Witold Waszczykowski.
Explaining Russia’s possible aims, Andrew Monaghan, Senior Research Fellow at UK-based think-tank Chatham House, said President Vladimir Putin is determined to protect Russia’s borders and ensure that no revolutions happen on its soil, like the one in Ukraine or those in the Middle East.
He said it is important not to demonize Putin, or make historical comparisons with Hitler or Stalin, but rather to analyse what Russia is up to now. He noted that Putin has domestic support for his actions, which were implicit in the agenda he announced for the 2012 elections.
Speaking to the NATO PA Political Committee, Monaghan said he expects Russia to exploit Ukraine’s troubles as the conflict in the east continues and the economy suffers. “It’s likely to be a very difficult winter in Ukraine. Perhaps there will be social unrest. The Russians will highlight this,” notably any mistakes Kyiv might make in handling any protests.
Janis Karklins, who heads NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, also warned of the misinformation campaign being waged by Russia, and he urged Allies to learn the lessons of the propaganda war, notably how best to exploit social media.
For example, he said Russia had hired ‘Internet trolls’ to spread misinformation and counter negative media coverage. Supporting free media, educating people to develop critical thinking and coming up with a counter-narrative to Russia’s were the best approaches to the problem, Karklins said Monaghan said it was important not to tackle Russia head on, but rather to expose untruths when they appear and “to focus on our own messages”.
Source: NATO Parliamentary Assembly