The West Is Fast Forming A United Front Against Russian Occupation Of Ukraine

The West appears to be forming a united front in opposition to Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. On Monday, America cut all military ties with Russia, while NATO held an emergency meeting, the first of two, on the Ukraine situation. Meanwhile, the European Union threatened to freeze all economic co-operation with Russia if it doesn’t withdraw its troops from Crimea by Thursday.

The NATO meetings were called because Poland invoked Article 4 of the NATO charter, which calls for consultation with all 28 members of the organization “whenever, in opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.” Invoking Article 4 is a rather big deal — it’s only been done four times in NATO’s 65-year history.

The purpose of Article 4 is basically to compel all NATO countries to jointly reaffirm their support for whichever country feels threatened. Poland’s reasons for feeling threatened are numerous — in addition to Russia’s history of meddling in Poland, Vladimir Putin justified the invasion of Ukraine by citing safety concerns for “Russian-speaking” citizens, of which there are many in Poland.

Meanwhile, all joint military exercises, high-level security meetings and regional security talks between the U.S. and Russia have been canceled. Although U.S. athletes will still participate in the Paralympics later this week, the White House has canceled the American delegation's planned trip to Sochi.

“In light of recent events in Ukraine, [the Pentagon will] put on hold all military-to-military engagements between the United States and Russia,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. “We call on Russia to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine and for Russian forces in Crimea to return to their bases.”

EU foreign ministers will hold a summit Thursday, where they’re expected to announce visa freezes and an end to all economic cooperation talks with Russia if Russian troops in Crimea aren’t withdrawn back into their barracks. While Russia is the EU’s third-biggest trading partner, the EU is Russia’s biggest.

"Those consequences will be bad for everyone, but for Russia they will be far worse than for the EU. We can target other markets if we have to. [Russia] will have trouble to quickly find other customers," Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said.