On the eve of NATO Summit in Vilnius, one of the main issues on the world political agenda is a new security architecture in Europe and security guarantees to Ukraine, — Baltic portal Delfi published an opinion by professor Yevhen Tsybulenko.
Read in Polish
The issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO is serious and tense. If the decision is postponed, it will mean substantial risks for the security of the West itself. On the other hand, the Alliance’s indecisiveness will fuel the Putin’s regime and highlight its continued influence on key European security decisions, as well as the split of the Western coalition. It looks ridiculous in a situation when the Wagner rebellion showed the complete military and political failure of modern Russia in general, and its leadership in particular.
NATO Membership for Ukraine today is perhaps even more necessary than EU membership. It is also important to take into account that joining the EU is a long, laborious process that requires careful study and amendments to legislation, economic and social spheres. But NATO membership is about politics. If all goes well, Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance can happen much faster, especially given the level of global support. However, certain disagreements among NATO member complicate the immediate accession of Ukraine.
That’s a well-known story about indecisiveness, the consequences of which we see today. Thus, as a result of the Bucharest Summit in 2008, when NATO membership was denied to Georgia and Ukraine, Russia brutally invaded Georgia, occupied Crimea in 2014 and unleashed a full-scale war in Ukraine in 2022, which is accompanied by massive war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by the Russian occupation forces.
One must learn from history and its mistakes. The European Parliament realized this by having adopted a resolution calling on NATO to allow Ukraine to accede. It is impossible to make mistakes again at the Vilnius Summit, to show weakness and superiority of the Putin’s regime.
But, there are opponents of Ukraine’s NATO membership strategy with three main counterarguments:
- Ukraine’s accession to NATO will not strengthen the Alliance, but vice versa;
- Ukraine’s accession to NATO will reinforce Putin’s rhetoric that Russia is forced to fight the whole world, which will unite Russians around support for the war;
- Ukraine’s accession to NATO will activate Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which means the immediate involvement of NATO in the ongoing war;
But these arguments are weak and illogical. It should be noted that Kyiv had chosen Ukraine’s membership in NATO long ago, enshrined it in the Constitution, and more than 85 % of the country’s population actively supports it. Given the Alliance’s goals, it becomes clear that Ukraine today struggles for NATO goals. With the help of Western partners, but nevertheless — alone, without any security guarantees. Thus, its accession will only strengthen the positions of the West and Europe in particular, unite it and allow creating new, higher standards for the entire continent. To date, the military potential of Ukraine not only meets, but also exceeds the membership criteria. Since the full-scale invasion, the Ukrainians have shown unprecedented unity and determination in defending their land and values, which are absolutely in line with the West. The military-political leadership and Ukrainian soldiers have demonstrated unprecedented opportunities for unity, struggle and strength. Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the EU would give both organizations a member with the same values, a truly “European army”, which already upholds and defends these values.
Those who support Ukraine’s entry into NATO are aware that Ukraine’s membership does not mean an immediate start of war for the Alliance, but guarantees support for Ukraine, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and therefore a long-awaited peace for all of Europe. There are options for bypassing the immediate entry into the war. For example, the invitation for Ukraine could contain a clause about Article 5 and its entry into force only after the defeat of Russia in the war. Moreover, in this regard, NATO, in general, does not risk anything, since even after the decision on accession, it requires ratification by all members. And here some countries may slow down the process, as is now happening with Sweden.
Ukraine does not require the fulfillment of all obligations. But an invitation to join NATO would send a signal to Ukraine that the West is firm in its support. At the same time, the Russian politicians will give up trying to claim territories and restore of the empire. In military terms, it will serve as the final argument that Ukraine, with its military passion, together with the absolute support of the West and its technologies, is no longer beyond Russia’s depth.
Moreover, the invitation of Ukraine to join NATO at the Vilnius Summit will act as a serious trigger for the Russian elites to take active steps towards stopping unpromising imperial ambitions. Seeing the unification of the West with Ukraine, they finally and inevitably realize that the further continuation of the war will only lead to defeat, not only military, but also political and economic. Its total isolation will lead to the destruction of the state.
One decision will show what Europe and the world can expect in the long run.