An International Post-War Security Force is Needed in Ukraine
By Daniel Rice
The war in Ukraine will end at some point. When, and under what terms, is unknown and still to be determined. But when it does end, there needs to be an international security force in Ukraine to ensure Russia never invades again.
In hindsight, after Russia invaded and illegally annexed the Donbas and Crimea in 2014, an international security force should have been installed in Ukraine. Had the international community done so, we would not likely be in this massive war.
Of course, Putin will protest and claim ‘escalation’. He has lost his seat at the table to make international decisions due to his aggressor actions and his army’s institutional-level war crimes against humanity. And his armed forces have been degraded significantly, so a protesting Putin has less to threaten the stronger west. Russia has always been a threat and has been an aggressor nation for the past century. Even after this loss, it will re-arm. The 141 million inhabitants and large energy revenues will allow Russia to do so.
This joint force should likely not include the United States to show that this is not a “U.S. versus Russia” issue. This is a “civilized world versus Russia” issue.
One of the reasons NATO has been successful is because of standardization of equipment, but it goes far beyond just equipment. NATO has been successful mostly because of shared values, shared standards, shared training, equipping, strategy, tactics, and in particular shared understanding and communication. This does not come easily.
Ukraine was a Soviet satellite and was led by Russian puppet kleptocratic leaders from 1991-2014. That is why the people rose up in the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, which deposed then-President Yanukovich, who fled to Russia after being deposed. And the Ukrainian people have been fighting for their freedom and to reject that corrupt Russian kleptocratic culture. So it has not been 31 years since Ukraine gained full freedom from the Soviet Union, it is more likely 8 years since deposing the Russian puppet government, and all of the corruption that came with it.
De-Soviet-ization needs to be deliberate and across the entire Ukrainian culture. The Ukrainian Armed Forces started this process in 2015 in coordination with the U.S. Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). 26,000 Ukrainian soldiers went through training. But the Ukrainian Armed Forces and security forces have swelled to nearly 1 million since February 24th. All of those soldiers need to continuously be trained using NATO standards, tactics, techniques, and procedures. The other European nations need to embrace Ukraine.
Joining NATO is certainly a goal of Ukraine, and it has applied for membership in the past. Whether it is admitted or not, is a political issue. Ukraine alone has stood up to the enemy for which NATO was formed: Russia. So Ukraine should not be admitted to NATO- it should be the other way around, NATO should be trying to join Ukraine. If two members of NATO vote to not allow Ukraine to join, that would be a tragedy, and most likely a self-serving vote by those members. They would rather sacrifice Ukraine than let them join the defensive pact of NATO.
A security agreement such as this is not a one-way street just to support Ukraine. Not many have traveled into the war zone and spent time with the war fighters. This Ukrainian Army is the most battle-hardened in all of Europe. They have been fighting the Russians for eight years. They are winning the war all alone – no one else has combat troops here – on their own. NATO has 30 current members and 2 potential new members, who all have a defensive pact to defend each other (Article V of NATO) in case Russia attacks. Any security agreement should come with Ukrainian soldiers working with the partner countries to transfer lessons learned from the most kinetic war in Europe since World War II. The western countries are weaker and exposed if they do not learn these hard fought lessons from the soldiers who beat the Russian Army.
Ukraine should not have been left alone to fight Russia after the 2014 invasion that lost the Donbas and Crimea. If there had been an international force of Polish, Romanian, Estonian, Latvia, Turkish, and Czech ground, air and naval forces in Ukraine, we would not likely be in this massive war. Ukraine’s neighbors should start discussing and planning the post-war security force to be stationed in Ukraine to prevent any further Russian aggression.
A security force in Ukraine is in each country’s individual and collective interests.