OPINION: Before you urge military involvement, consider the consequences


Illustration by Caroline McElhannon

Destruction continues as NATO discusses involvement in Ukraine.

New developments, higher death counts and further destruction. The invasion of Ukraine has left the whole world in utter shock, infuriated with the fantasies of Vladimir Putin as millions of refugees rush to escape bombed cities and communities. His ideological view of freeing Ukraine as he destroys it keeps the world on edge, shifting their focus on NATO for help. 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance that was created during the Cold War and consists of 30 countries including the United States. Formed with the purpose of dealing with Russia’s role in the world while preserving democracy, the alliance is confronted with similar decisions regarding the Ukraine invasion.

President Zelensky of Ukraine and others have begged for a No-fly zone and additional forms of intervention that have been rejected by the alliance. Since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, they have no obligation to join in the fighting. Instead, they have increased the military in surrounding NATO countries in case Russian forces continue west. Some reactions to these decisions were negative, blaming NATO for the continuation of the war. Though they are not considering the implications, they aren’t entirely wrong.  

NATO’s immense power in the world means that involvement could shut down Putin and save thousands of Ukrainians. It could even lead to the removal of Russian forces in Ukraine. But the refusal to enforce a No-fly zone or send military enforcement isn’t because NATO governments are lazy or worried solely about economic implications. Though it may not seem like it, these governments are basing their decision on preventing death and destruction. 

The alliance includes six countries that make up the top world superpowers known as the “G7”. These countries, especially the United States, are known for their military prowess and technology. So involvement could create a massive switch in the state of the world. 30 countries pulled into Ukraine could spark the third world war. Especially because doing so could nudge Russian allies and supporters to join in. 

Reflecting on the Cuban Missile Crisis during the Cold War, nuclear war-fare technology has only expanded, posing an unfathomable threat to the world. Putin has proven his obsessive and delusional thinking, so it’s uncertain what he’d be willing to do. If provoked, millions of people could die. So not only can this mean the start of the third world war, but a nuclear one.  

According to the New York Times, Putin stated that western involvement could trigger the use of nuclear warfare. Having to carefully consider what this means for the world, NATO needs to do anything to avoid this from happening. But many define a No-fly zone as only the border of joining the war, never actually being a part of it. However, this technical definition doesn’t mean that’s how the Russian government will view it. 

A No-fly zone means NATO would patrol Ukrainian skies in order to prevent air attacks from Russia. This would help to stop civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure. However, this also means firing at the Russian planes that are causing the demolition. Since Putin has already declared his discontent with NATO supplying the Ukraine militia, he could view firing at Russian planes or air bases as an official act of war. 

While caught up in what they haven’t done, some look past how NATO and the US have aided Ukraine. Aggressive sanctions have devastated the Russian economy along with bans on Russian oil imports. The Biden administration has passed huge bi-partisan funding bills and NATO has supplied important weapons to Ukraine. 

Though not doing everything they can, NATO countries have considered the consequences of involvement and have done only what they believe would not provoke a larger war. It is becoming increasingly difficult to read and watch the developments in Ukraine, knowing that more can be done. But it is important to understand that involvement could lead to fear for the lives of the entire world. We cannot worsen the conflict.       

Photo credit: “NATOs hovedkvarter” by Utenriksdepartementet UD is licensed under (CC BY-ND 2.0).