What Rasmussen is really saying

I have convened the North Atlantic Council today because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. And because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation. Sovereignty is the most important principle of the UN. The only principle all UN members agreed on, really. They also agreed that if a country violates this holy principle military intervention is desirable. This sentence already warns Putin not to cross the line.

What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter. A clarification of the above. The UN is the ultimate authority, the one and only (limited) authority when it comes to global peace and conflict. Also note the irony. Putin loves to refer to the UN and more specifically the principle of sovereignty. Think of Syria. Russia also enjoys being in the “driver seat” of the UN a.k.a. the Security Council. So the focus on the UN is clearly a smart way to deal with this. Getting them at their own game. It threatens peace and security in Europe. Russia must stop its military activities and its threats. MUST is a very strong word in public statements. Rasmussen doesn’t say “we are deeply concerned by the military activities by Russia”, not even “gravely concerned” but “Russia MUST stop”. Strong message.

Today we will discuss their implications, for European peace and security, and for NATO’s relationship with Russia. “Today we will discuss whether there will be a military intervention when Russia goes to war.”

Afterwards, we will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission. “The NATO and Ukraine are already cooperating. So don’t think a military intervention won’t happen. We’re ready.”

We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. He’s said the sovereignty thing three times now. Three times a charm? We support the right of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference. “Own future.” No OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE. #4. And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected. “Emphasize.” “Ensure.” Strong words.

Ukraine is our neighbor, and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO. This is the clearest military threat in his whole message. Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO and NATO is above all a Cold War remnant, a military alliance. If you attack a partner of NATO, NATO will retaliate militarily. And next to being a NATO member, Ukraine is also “our neighbor”. Meaning: “By attacking Ukraine, you’re not only hurting our ally, you’re also hurting us because of our proximity.”

We urge all parties to urgently continue all efforts to move away from this dangerous situation. Now, it’s only “urge”. This is weak because NATO takes a stance and doesn’t feel like “urging” Ukraine. The word choice of “dangerous situation” is also interesting. Could refer to a possible revival of the Cold War or even a third World War. In particular, I call on Russia to de-escalate tensions. “Russia: Back off.”