War in Ukraine: “The war has never really stopped”, says Philippe Migault

Solène Leroux with AFP
modified to

2:12 p.m., February 24, 2022


After Russia’s offensive in Ukraine last night, a NATO summit is scheduled for tomorrow by videoconference. We already know that additional defensive land and air forces will be deployed in the eastern part of the Alliance, therefore near Ukraine, as well as additional maritime assets. “NATO Allies will come together to deal with the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions. We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do whatever it takes to protect and defend all allies,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

What could NATO’s reaction be? Guest of Romain Desarbres in Europe noonthe director of the European Center for Strategic Analysis (CEAS) Philippe Migault assumes that “NATO will not go further” than the “deployment of force that one can imagine in the Baltic republics, in Poland or in Romania” .

According to him, the Atlantic alliance “has never hidden that it does not intend to intervene directly in Ukraine”, while recalling that Ukraine is not a member of NATO, any more than it ” is not an ally of NATO”. In summary, “there is therefore no diplomatic or military obligation of NATO vis-à-vis Ukraine” according to Philippe Migault.

An unthinkable open conflict

The specialist also explains that intervening on behalf of NATO would amount to “going to war against Russia, and therefore going to war against a nuclear power”. An inconceivable solution? “It’s unimaginable for two reasons,” he says. Above all because the international community “has not ceased to avoid” an open conflict “since 1949 and since the Soviet Union has atomic weapons”.

Then, according to the director of the CEAS, “when you want to go to war, you still have to have the means to win it”. However, currently, Philippe Migault estimates that if NATO can send “several thousand men and armored vehicles quickly”, it would “not weigh against the Russian army if the latter decides to return massively to Ukraine. “. This frontal conflict “would result in a defeat of NATO on Ukrainian soil”, so it is “of course unthinkable”.

Is peace in Europe being called into question, as Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, says? For Philippe Migault, “peace in Europe has been called into question for a very long time already”. He explains that “peace in Europe did not really exist in the 1990s” because of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. He also sees a clear parallel with the wars of the time. For him, “the war has never really stopped”, recalling the Georgian conflict of 2008, and that “since 2014, we have been fighting in the Donbass”.

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