Bringing Ukraine closer to NATO is the way to stop the war
The speed and format of Ukraine’s NATO integration is the critical factor for victory over Russia and the restoration of peace and order in Europe, writes Roman Rukomeda.
It is the 396th day of the massive Russian military aggression against Ukraine. Among the key global security questions are how deeply China will help Russia in its aggression against Ukraine and the existing world order and what to do with Iran, which is rapidly moving with active Russian assistance toward having its nuclear weapons.
Such global turbulence and chaos became possible because Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine for over 13 months has not stopped. The level of NATO and EU assistance to Ukraine is still insufficient to reach Russia’s military defeat and punish its leadership for being a threat to all human civilisation. Is it possible to tolerate Russia’s destruction of the world’s security and order, which leads to rapid global chaos?
For many years after the death of the Soviet Union, Russia was preparing to return to its control over the former Soviet zone of influence. Having weak political and economic argumentation for attracting Eastern European states and former Soviet republics in its area of effect, Moscow used other means, in many cases, rather dirty but practical. One such tactic was to capture part of the state’s territory and control it through Russian proxy structures and mercenaries, rendering such conditions unsuitable for further EU and NATO integration. We have seen the result of such a strategy in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.
During an online discussion at the Kyiv Security Forum in May 2020, a former US State Department Special Representative on Ukraine, Kurt Walker, proposed that before integrating Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia into Alliance, NATO might sign an agreement that Article 5 would not be applied to the occupied territories in those states.
In the same vein, the position of many heads of the NATO members states that Ukraine will become a NATO member-state in some perspective, but only after the end of Russian military aggression doesn’t help. It sends a clear message to Putin’s Russia that the only way to keep Ukraine away from NATO integration is to continue the war against it without any visible end.
Conversely, a practical example that may be used vis-à-vis Ukraine is already practised by NATO towards Finland and Sweden. Ukraine’s scheme of integration to NATO could be the same – integration to the civil and military structures of the Alliance before the formal ratification of the membership by all the NATO member-states.
Of course, an essential element is the security guarantees given to Ukraine that will protect the state and society from future potential Russian aggressions before full integration into NATO. A plan to be announced at the NATO summit in Vilnius this summer to integrate Ukraine into the alliance will put an end to Russian aggression in a concise perspective; as for Kremlin, it will be a clear message that Ukraine is no longer the area of Russia’s influence and nothing, including the war, can change that.
The alternative – a temporary cease-fire – will only allow the Russian aggressor to regroup and collect more resources to widen the war in Europe.