A Modest Proposal For Ukraine

An idea from the If-I-Ruled-The-World Department —

If you believe the news reports, a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent. Formerly a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Ukraine became independent following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But President of Russia Vladimir Putin, in an apparent bid to put Humpty Dumpty (the Soviet empire) back together again, invaded and annexed the Crimean region of Ukraine in March 2014, has reportedly supported Ukrainian separatists, and at last count has massed 100,000 troops along the common border. This has all the hallmarks of an impending invasion. To prevent another Cold War, or worse, how could it be stopped?

Perhaps a strong show of force by NATO? Although Ukraine is not a NATO member, it did join NATO’s enhanced opportunity partner interoperability program in June of 2020, and is considered a Western ally. But wouldn’t NATO military forces in-country be seen by Russia as a provocation?

Consider this — according to the Climate Change Knowledge Portal, “Ukraine is at risk of hydrometeorological hazards and natural disasters, which primarily affect the agricultural and human health sectors, through seasonal flooding and periods of drought. Threats from riverine, urban floods and wildfires are considered high. Impacts from climate change make Ukraine increasingly vulnerable to: droughts, high temperatures, heat waves, heavy precipitation, mudflows, and floods.” (https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country/ukraine/vulnerability) So a natural disaster in the country is a real possibility.

If Russia explains its border troop buildup as “military maneuvers,” perhaps a multi-nation influx of NATO military personnel could be considered “contingency maneuvers” to prepare Ukraine for its next natural disaster. This would include medical personnel, construction battalions, and enough infantry to ensure public order would be maintained. No offensive weapons would be included. Such a force would become a tripwire for further NATO intervention in case of invasion, yet under the rationale of civil action.

With a significant NATO presence, Putin would be forced to think twice about invading. The face-saving way out would be to announce his maneuvers were over and pull back. And once the Russian troops were withdrawn from the border, the NATO disaster-preparedness “maneuvers” would end too. Crisis averted.

It’s probably too late, but it is interesting to think about.

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