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    Wednesday, March 7, 2007

    Ukraine and Georgia in NATO?

    I just read that the U.S. House of Representatives has endorsed another (eventual) expansion of NATO, this time to include Albania, Macedonia, and Croatia, as well as the ex-Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia.

    Ukraine and Georgia are, of course, indepedent states that can join whatever international organizations they choose. But the endless eastward expasion of the trans-Atlantic alliance - while telling Russia that it is not welcome and will never be welcome to join - is what Putin was talking about in his Munich speech when he grumbled that "we have the right to ask, against whom is this expansion directed."

    I don't often agree with Vladimir Vladimirovich, but in this case, he's right. Why does NATO need to add the military might of an Albania or a Georgia to its already unrivalled force? To fight "terrorists"?

    Mikhail Saakashvili would point out here that Georgia has already proven itself a strong U.S. ally, and is deserving of being formally recognized as such. It's the only country still offering to send more troops into the Iraqi quagmire when Italy and Spain are long gone and Britain and Poland are leaving.

    The Kremlin, however, sees it as pure, aggressive, encirclement. It can still stir up a lot of trouble in Ukraine (it's Black Sea Fleet is still parked at Sevastopol) and in Georgia, where it effectively controls the renegade provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    If NATO gets closer to formally inviting Kiev and Tbilisi to join, don't expect the Kremlin to take it lying down.

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