The Verkhovna Rada on Thursday, June 8, legislated goal for Ukraine’s accession to NATO as a priority of state policy. This decision is unlikely to accelerate movement towards the North Atlantic Alliance. But it has defined its foreign policy. Kiev resumes its way into NATO. No matter how long it may be, one thing is clear: sooner or later Ukraine will become a member of a powerful military-political bloc.
The long road to NATO
20 years ago, in the days of President Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine and NATO signed the “Charter on a distinctive partnership”. NATO does not hide that would like to see a member unit of the Ukrainian state. However, the official Kiev at the time was weird. On 15 June 2004, Kuchma signed the military doctrine of Ukraine. In the document it was that the country’s accession to NATO is one of the priorities of foreign and defense policy, and a month later, this passage was not.
Swing “Ukraine-NATO” continued under President Viktor Yushchenko. In April 2005, the President returned to the military doctrine of the priority of Ukraine’s accession to the Alliance, and within a year after the Prime Minister sat Victor Yanukovych that joining the Western defense Alliance was again shelved. After the victory of Yanukovych in the presidential elections, this goal had disappeared altogether from the agenda of the Ukrainian state.
The indecisiveness of Ukraine in pursuit of the North Atlantic Alliance is the result of work of the Kremlin. Moscow never wanted to have on its border, NATO troops tried to prevent it. Having serious levers of influence on Ukraine’s leadership, the Kremlin did everything to prevent the annexation of the Ukrainian state to the Alliance. One has only to recall how much noise was in the Russian media in the Ukrainian Crimea was held NATO exercises.
Willingness and ability
The decision of the Verkhovna Rada on NATO, of course, does not mean that Ukraine in the near future will become a member of the Alliance. It is rather a Declaration of intent. In the East there is a war, annexed the Crimea, the Russian army boots trampling the Ukrainian land. All this, to put it mildly, not the best preconditions for NATO taking Ukraine under its “umbrella”. This is well understood in Kiev and Brussels, and Moscow.
Membership in the Alliance as one of the policy goals of Ukraine is a signal not only NATO, but also Russia. Kiev has made it clear to Vladimir Putin that Ukraine is finally freed from the protectorate of Moscow. How much would it takes time — ten, twenty or thirty years, the Ukrainian government will sooner or later be in NATO. This means that Kiev hopes to regain the Crimea, and now-controlled areas of Donbass.
After the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada decision on NATO, Ukraine, obviously waiting for another referendum. President Petro Poroshenko had earlier announced its intention to hold a plebiscite on the country’s accession to the Alliance. The referendum also will not speed up Ukraine’s accession to military-political bloc, but will confirm the correctness of the chosen path of the current Ukrainian authorities. What will be the result, in my opinion, obviously. Ukrainians want to feel protected from external aggression. And this feeling of security can now only give NATO.
Putin is not a hindrance?
Today a serious obstacle for Ukraine on its way to NATO is Russia. Membership of the Ukrainian state in the Alliance in many respects depends on Moscow. The position of Vladimir Putin has long been known. In order to remind about it once again, the Kremlin may contribute to the escalation of violence in Donbas to provoke another conflict in the South of the Ukrainian state. They say, where is Ukraine in NATO, if there is a civil war.
But the path was the same as Montenegro, becoming a member of NATO, despite the protests of Russia, testifies to the fact that nothing unreal about it. Over three years of war, Ukraine has received a modern army, which had experience of defending its territory against an external enemy. The Ukrainians made it clear: its independence and territorial integrity of the country they are willing to defend with arms in hand. Yes, this army is still far from NATO standards. Yes, she has a lot to learn from others. But behind this army of the future among those who are ready to rebuff the aggressor.