Perhaps all this Burger King stuff has put a spring in the step of our neighbor to the North. The Canada NATO delegation’s official Twitter account offered this for Putin’s Russia today upon recent reports that Russian troops have “accidentally” crossed into Ukraine— an act dubbed an “escalation,” by even Susan Rice.
Take it away, Canada:
— Canada at NATO 🇨🇦 (@CanadaNATO) August 27, 2014
Sure, hashtag activism and snarky tweets on their own don’t solve big geopolitical problems caused by nostalgic former KGB agents, but NATO is also deploying troops to some Easter European bases in response to Russia’s moves, so a cheeky display on social media is not all that’s going on. And, I’m not sure we should let troop movements or lack thereof inhibit our enjoyment of the trolling of Moscow. Reagan was famously great at culturally attuned mockery of the way of life Communism imposed on its people.
Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations’s summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia’s borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.
He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine’s security, “modernise” its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.
Rasmussen said: “We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the Nato response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness.
“In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east.”
Ukraine is not part of NATO, and its members are therefore not required to take up arms on its behalf. NATO announced in 2008 it would not offer membership to Georgia and Ukraine, which had sought to accelerate that process—an announcement that pleased Putin and the more pro-Russia parts of the Ukraine public, which is split on the question. Ukraine remains in partnership with NATO and conducts joint exercises.
The NATO plan echoes the plan outlined by a former ambassador to NATO in this Foreign Policy piece, “How NATO could confront the Putin Doctrine:”
The Putin doctrine — the belief that Russia has the right to act to protect Russian-speakers, no matter where they are — puts NATO nations such as Estonia, Latvia, and Poland at risk. Each of these countries has citizens who speak Russian; the Kremlin has suggested it would penetrate those borders if Moscow thought those populations were threatened.
According to Kurt Volker, the U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2008 to 2009, the alliance is now in the middle of a delicate balancing act: It’s trying to show enough force to warn Russia away from NATO members that were part of the old Eastern Bloc, while not appearing openly hostile in a way that would provoke Russia’s territorial ambitions. The last thing NATO wants is a second Cold War.
“The higher we make the line for protecting allies, the worse it is for countries like Moldova and Georgia and Ukraine,” he said. “You’re telling Russians that if you’re not a NATO member, you’re fair game. That’s a dangerous signal.” …
“NATO could reconstitute an ace mobile force, a NATO response force,” he said. “The idea is that you have units that exist not just on paper — that are identified together and exercise together. They could exercise as a multinational force in Eastern Europe. It would be a strong show of multinational solidarity.”
As Noah notes, I may just be looking for the slightest kick from the leg of an already boiled frog, and calling it life. But like it or not, trolling Russia on Twitter is one way to get more of the Western public to pay attention to Ukraine. And, now far many more Americans probably know which country is Ukraine. I know, I’m not being encouraging.