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Could NATO-membership be an alternative for Ukraine?

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In the midst of a hybrid war with Russia, Ukraine considers a potential NATO membership more and more attractive. Is this a possibility in the current conditions? Would Russia accept this, and is the NATO itself interested in a Ukrainian accession?
Source: (CC)

NATO Membership Will Provide a Long-term Security for Ukraine

Justas Kidykas | 2014. December 04. 14:50

Ukraine's military is facing a stalemate with the allegedly Russian-supported separatist groups in Donetsk and Lugansk. Only strong commitment to future NATO membership will allow Ukraine to solve the crisis and counter Russian aggression.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has always been interested in the possibility of Ukraine  joining the Alliance one day, yet due to Russia’s strong opposition and Ukraine’s inconsistency in their policy, it has not been possible to achieve this goal. In 2008, Ukraine was almost granted a permission to apply for the membership, but Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that nuclear warheads would be pointed at Kiev and public opposition drained away Western ambitions. However, since Ukraine’s territory and sovereignty have been infringed already, maybe it was time to reconsider this decision.

*Public perception has changed

Historically, the Alliance has been viewed negatively in Ukraine ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Especially among Russian minorities, Russia was seen as a much more reliable ally than the NATO. In the political sphere, a NATO membership has been an ongoing debate, but after the Orange Revolution, it stood as one of the main goals during President Yuschenko’s tenure as Ukrainian Head of State. Yet, occasional conflicts with Russia over gas prices put the negotiations to a halt. Just five years ago, Pew Research Centre conducted a research, which showed that half of the Ukrainian population was not in favour of joining the NATO, while only 28% would have supported such a decision. However, in response to the ongoing events in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, the public opinion changed sides dramatically. In fact, according to the Ukrainian Sociological Organization Rating, currently 44% of Ukrainians would agree to a NATO membership, while only 35% would oppose it. The opinion has changed mostly among the inhabitants of West Ukraine, who are considered to be more pro-European. It is important to note, that Baltic States have also been strongly in favour of Ukraine joining the NATO. Their problematic past with Russia creates an empathy for Ukraine, thus encouraging it to join the NATO's security block as well.

*Breaking from the stalemate

Following the general elections, which were recognized by Russia, self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have established the position of a so-called chief executive, thus continuing their secession from Ukraine. The crisis in Eastern Ukraine echos more and more the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 and Russian-supported states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Ukrainian military has been conducting a counterterrorist operation since March, yet it has not been able to make stable breakthrough in the region and has been moved back by the separatists. It is almost self-evident that separatist forces have been trained and armed by Russia; nevertheless, Ukrainian military lacks efficiency due to its obsolete military technique and lack of experience and motivation among the soldiers. A part of the army consists of young people drafted after the mobilization, plus, the stalemate has been discouraging the troops as well.
The NATO has already collaboratively agreed to give advice for the defence reforms and to donate €15 million of financial aid for modernizing the Ukrainian military; however, their hands are tied in terms of bringing military support itself. If the NATO sends its troops to Ukraine now, Russia would interpret it as an intervention to Ukraine’s internal crisis and it would be "obliged" to invade Eastern Ukraine under the pretext to secure Russian-speaking minorities. Thus, Ukraine should be applying for a NATO membership, as long as Russia officially does not declare its involvement in Donetsk and Lugansk. Ukraine’s territorial integrity has been already infringed during the annexation of Crimea, hence, it can ask for the admission to the NATO based on their insecurities of further incursion from Russia.

*A Significant Step for Ukraine is Equally Important for the Alliance

Ukraine has a right to assure that its sovereignty will not be disrespected by foreign powers and that its security will be preserved. The NATO has already taken steps to provide more defence and security to the Baltic States, who are fearing possible Russian provocations among their minorities. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia have been constantly asking for more commitment from the NATO to Eastern Europe and Ukraine specifically. Putin has been using the NATO’s inaction to his advantage and for spreading his influence in the post-Soviet region. Putin’s public policy is built on the illusion that he is successfully opposing the West and as long as the Alliance remains reluctant to reactact to Russian progression, Putin will be inclinined to take further steps. The NATO and the West need to stand up to counter the Russian aggression. The NATO would need to show its determination to ensure safety and stability in Eastern Europe, tighten economic sanctions against Russia, and show that it is absolutely wrong to disregard territorial sovereignty and international laws by actions rather than words; only then will Putin stop, or will public pressure make him stop. Ukraine might be a diverse country, but it has chosen a path towards European integration and it must enjoy its freedom and security.

Impossible to choose whom to play with if you are not chosen by the players

Anna Koicheva | 2014. December 04. 14:50

Is it possible to be independent enough to make your own choice in the 21st century? Unfortunately, having a state doesn't always mean having an independent and sovereign state. It neither means that you are able to choose your international policy direction, as this policy is directed by the world's key players.

As the past events show the Ukrainian public opinion has changed in favor of the NATO and turned away from the Russian Federation. Gallup polls in Ukraine show: a higher number of Ukrainians would vote for accession to NATO membership today. Nevertheless, to become a NATO member-state, a country has to meet all the criteria of the organization at first. Secondly, the NATO member-states have to have a will to accept this country and these two points are decisive.

*“We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”
― Winston S. Churchill

Talking about the NATO standards, Ukraine has to go through a lot of trouble to reform its military forces, starting from the educational system and finishing with cryptography (the science or study of the techniques of secret writing, especially code and cipher systems, methods, and the like - definition from the dictionary.com).
As one of the articles of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) requires, Ukraine has to provide military forces and resources for assuring collective security and accomplishment of NATO military missions. In fact, the Ukrainian military's conditions are very poor: military hardware is outdated, services and duties are not carried out in a proper way. There are many reasons for that, such as a lack of financial motivation, a high level of corruption, etc. How could we rely on common military support without contributing to this “community”?

*“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
- Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s statement about economy says more than I could say. History shows that it’s almost impossible to make your choices on your own if someone pays for your choices. In order to become a NATO member Ukraine has to contribute to the alliance financially no less than to the military. According to the MAP Ukraine would have to make enough budgetary provisions to carry out the obligations towards NATO. It would have to take part in NATO military actions under the terms of common funding according to the approved shares. It is hard to imagine how Ukraine would cope with this if taking into consideration the current Ukrainian economic situation, especially the high levels of inflation and economic recession.

“Willingness to settle international, ethnic or external territorial disputes by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and human rights, and democratic control of armed forces” is a good cause, but not fit for Ukraine.

One of the most significant criteria is that all the ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes should be settled in a peaceful way. This criterion stresses the fact that there should be no territorial disputes in the jurisdiction of the pre-accession country in order to maintain good neighborhood relations, according to the OSCE principles. This criterion is enough to close the doors of NATO accession for Ukraine in the nearest future, as, despite the Crimean Peninsula dispute, there is a military conflict in the borders of Ukraine with the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which is likely to last longer than we expected.

*One versus all doesn't solve anything

The second step Ukraine should take towards its accession process is to receive approvals from all the member states for it to enter the alliance.
Unfortunately, this is another hot button issue. If Ukraine gets the MAP, there are a couple of choices: either the EU would find a common ground for the Russian Federation - European Union cooperation on the common security issues with Russia, or the start of another Cold War could be declared with a risk of a full-scale war. The second scenario is one that the world community is trying to prevent by any means, thus the question of the Ukrainian accession to the NATO membership is fading into insignificance.

Taking into consideration all the mentioned above it is becoming clear that the NATO can’t just up and accept Ukraine as a member state. Besides all the formal steps of the accession process, this is also a highly politicized issue and this fact makes impossible for Ukraine to become a NATO member. Nevertheless, this is a tremendous and very symbolic step for the Ukrainian parliament to declare the request to become a member state. This claim is very much unique for the 21st Century as Ukraine, realizing its dependency on the Russian Federation foreign policy, changes its own policy direction. It is a manifestation of indecency in the thoughts of the nation and a will to be heard in the world, rather than a will to become a NATO member-state.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

The state of votes

41%
59%

NATO Membership Will Provide a Long-term Security for Ukraine

Justas Kidykas

Impossible to choose whom to play with if you are not chosen by the players

Anna Koicheva

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