Ex-NATO Chief says West made "mistake" in not providing Georgia, Ukraine with "clear path" to membership in 2008

Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes the West made the first “mistake” back in 2008 in not outlining “a clear path” forward for Georgia and Ukraine.

In an interview with the Foreign Policy magazine, Rasmussen said: “The first mistake was back in 2008 when we had a NATO summit in Bucharest in which we decided that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO. But we couldn’t agree on granting them a so-called membership action plan. And this split within NATO sent the wrong message to Putin, who attacked Georgia a few months after in August 2008.”

 “We also made a mistake in 2014 after the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation, where we introduced some sanctions. But they were mild sanctions. And all that gave Putin the impression that he could, almost without any cost, continue and grab land by force. So, we have made many mistakes. We have been too naive for too long,” Ex NATO official continued.

Asked whether he could have done more when he was in office, Rasmussen stressed he had been in favour of granting the MAP to Georgia and Ukraine during the summit but “we couldn’t achieve consensus within NATO.”

“A secretary-general of NATO is in the very difficult position that he must achieve consensus. And it’s no secret that all the way through, I wanted another approach. In 2008, I was prime minister of Denmark. I was in favor of granting [a] membership action plan to Georgia and Ukraine. But we couldn’t achieve consensus within NATO. In 2014, I was in favor of much stronger measures, but we couldn’t achieve consensus on that. And of course, I had to accept that. But I think we should learn lessons from history. Appeasement with dictators does not lead to peace. It leads to war and conflict because they only respect the language of power, strength, and unity,” Rasmussen stated.

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