Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted during a NATO summit in June that Western leaders had confirmed that his country would “become a member of the coalition.”
The Ukrainian leader’s tweet, which some Western diplomats saw as mistimed and intended to mislead Russia, elicited a supposedly furious response from Kremlin officials. He has long warned that Ukraine’s entry into NATO is unacceptable to Moscow, crossing a red line that would be met with retaliatory measures.
Despite threats from the Kremlin and a Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, President Zelensky continues to pressure Ukraine to enroll in NATO as soon as possible, saying this is the only way to stop Russia’s aggression. Others, including some Western leaders, fear it will do the opposite – inviting more Russian aggression.
At the June summit, Zelensky did not receive a date of admission. And US President Joe Biden, who in the past has been a strong champion for Ukraine to join the Atlantic Coalition, dismissed talk of an imminent entry. “The school is out on that question. It remains to be seen,” he said when reporters asked him about Ukraine’s involvement.
“In the meantime, we will do everything possible to put Ukraine in a position to be able to continue resisting Russian physical aggression,” he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a series of increasingly insistent demands for guarantees that Ukraine will never be allowed to join NATO.
Some observers question whether what they see as sabotage by senior US and European officials of Biden and Ukraine’s NATO ambitions is evidence that Russia has already achieved one of its key goals – Namely, to prevent Ukraine from joining the Western Alliance. ,
At best, the White House and European allies are sending mixed messages about NATO membership for Ukraine, he says. “The urgency of Moscow’s ultimatum shows that Ukraine is on the verge of NATO membership. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth,” according to Peter Dickinson, editor of UkraineAlert, a newspaper of the Atlantic Council, a US -based research group.
“At this point, the closest Ukraine has come to joining NATO is a vague and largely symbolic commitment to future membership achieved at the coalition’s 2008 summit in Bucharest. Although this pledge has been repeated on several subsequent occasions. is reiterated, but has no real significance and is essentially a confirmation of the Coalition’s standard open-door policy for all potential new members,” said Dickinson, also an editor of business ukraine magazine.
In June, NATO “upgraded” its ties with Ukraine, designating the country an advanced opportunity partner. The EOP program, which was launched in 2014, aims to “support and deepen cooperation among allies and partners who make significant contributions to NATO-led operations and missions,” according to NATO. Sweden, Finland, Australia and Jordan also enjoy the designation. But as NATO states on its website: “Ukraine’s status as an advanced opportunity partner does not predetermine any decision on NATO membership.”
After Zelensky posted his June tweet, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also sought to downplay the significance of the designation, telling reporters “nothing new had happened”. And he referred them to the 2008 NATO conference in Bucharest, where the coalition welcomed the membership aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia. But NATO declined to offer either a Membership Action Plan, or MAP, that would set them on a fixed path to entry.
The then US President George W Bush had pushed for NATO to offer MAP to both countries, but several European members, including Germany, were opposed, fearing doing so would further deteriorate relations with Russia. A British diplomat told that the opposition of some of VOA US allies has not subsided. “Some members have little appetite for inheriting the open conflict that NATO will do if Ukraine becomes a member,” he said.
Some analysts and Western diplomats say Putin insisted that NATO should never accede to Ukraine, leaving the Biden administration and Western coalition allies in a dilemma. Many NATO members are unwilling to accede to Ukraine for a variety of reasons, including concerns that Ukraine is still not on top of corruption. But while they do not want to rush decisions, they are also afraid to accuse Russia or Moscow of appeasing them by explaining that they are weak.
The dilemma facing the West has been seized upon by Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington research organization, for arguing that the US should negotiate a treaty with Russia that gives Ukraine a neutral country. .
Lieven acknowledged that the idea would be criticized by Western fundamentalists. “However, they need to ask themselves whether they are really prepared to consider war with Russia; and if not, what are they proposing as a solid alternative to these proposals,” he said. Wrote for the Quincy Institute, which advocates a non-interventionist US foreign policy.
But it is unlikely that Ukraine will agree to the erosion of its rights as an independent nation. Zelensky has been pushing even more than his pro-NATO predecessors for a timetable for Ukraine’s membership, but he has been rebuffed with the latest knock coming last month when NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for Ukrainian membership. His request for a program was sidelined.
On his Facebook page, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said that the meeting between Zelensky and Stoltenberg to discuss strengthening Ukraine’s armed forces was “very good, positive”, but added, “To be honest, Of course, the only drawback was that we weren’t told the year Ukraine would become a member of NATO, although we asked.”
Throughout this week, senior US officials have emphasized that Russia’s demand to halt any further expansion of NATO – and in particular a guarantee that Ukraine will never be admitted as a member – is “non-existent”. – Beginnings”.
US Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Ambassador Julian Smith, added his voice on Tuesday, echoing previous dismissals of Russian demands by Blinken and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. “We will not allow anyone to shut down NATO’s ‘open door’ policy,” Smith said.
Despite the strong wording, former US ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pfeiffer, questioned whether the Kremlin has already been allowed to exercise a veto over Ukrainian membership, as NATO fears being embroiled in a war. He said in a newspaper commentary that Kiev had had to wait a long time to join NATO, but that it would likely have to wait longer.
“Allies are no longer enthusiastic about MAP, especially because there is no good answer to the question, ‘If Ukraine joins NATO tomorrow, will the alliance find itself at war with Russia?
Pifer suggested Ukraine to stop demanding a timetable for membership, saying, “Under the current circumstances, the answer will be either tacit or not. Neither helps NATO-Ukraine relations.” He added, “MAP”. There should be clarity between NATO and Ukrainian officials about the playing conditions, as should the Washington side.”
A British diplomat, who asked not to be identified for this article, told VOA: “It may be best to avoid clarity at this stage – acknowledging Ukraine will now increase tensions and ambiguity to Russia as well.” Keeps guessing.
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