A Consolidation of NATO Efforts with Ukraine will Stop Russian Aggression

Ihor Petrenko

6 mins - 4 de Julio de 2023, 07:05

Two weeks are left before the Vilnius NATO Summit, which will be held on July 11-12, but the allies have not yet managed to formulate a final declaration on Ukraine's entry into the Alliance. Western partners of Kyiv declare that Ukraine's accession to NATO is possible only after the end of the war. However, some Western leaders mean by the term “end of the war” some kind of compromise at the negotiating table with Russia, where the formalization of the results of the war will take place.

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President Zelensky is also talking about Ukraine's NATO membership after the end of the war and expects to receive a signal at the Vilnius summit, a clear and understandable signal that Ukraine can and has the right to become an equal member of NATO after the war. The Ukrainian president also talks about security guarantees for the period before accession. Ukraine really needs security guarantees, but not as an alternative to membership, but for a time until Ukraine becomes a member of NATO. These guarantees will allow Ukraine, without regard to Russian aggression, to fulfill everything necessary for membership in the Alliance in full.

It is noteworthy that Ukraine and Spain signed a joint declaration, which became the 21st document supporting Ukraine's membership in NATO. As a result of the visit of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a joint declaration of the leaders of Spain and Ukraine was signed. It states that Spain supports the strengthening of NATO's partnership with Ukraine, in particular through the establishment of the NATO-Ukraine Council as a platform to further strengthen and expand ongoing cooperation to help to realize Ukraine's path to a Euro-Atlantic family in line with the Bucharest Declaration. This is an important signal of support for Ukraine from such an ally as Spain.

At the same time, there is no evidence that the leadership of the Russian Federation intends to change its approaches to the West. On the contrary, Russian officials continue to accuse EU and NATO member states, as well as their allies and partners, of being hostile to Russia.

Moscow accuses the civilizational West of attempting to use the former socialist countries and some former republics of the USSR against the Russian Federation. In fact, the Alliance expanded not to fight, but to erase the internal European barriers artificially created as a result of the long Soviet occupation of parts of European countries. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which have repeatedly felt the onslaught of Russian imperialism, have been persistently knocking on the door of the Alliance since the early 1990s. Among them: Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary (1999), Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania (2004), Croatia, Albania (2009), Montenegro (2017), North Macedonia (2020), Finland (2023). This indicates that Putin does not have the right to veto the expansion of the North Atlantic alliance.

Despite the voiced protest, Russia was forced to put up with NATO expansion. This is exactly how the Alliance needed to act towards Ukraine, which, before the full-scale Russian invasion, was left face to face with a nuclear aggressive state.

Russia needs Ukraine primarily as a buffer state for further expansion to the west. Therefore, if Russia is not punished for aggression against a sovereign state, after a while it will resort to revenge. Even in the event of a successful end to the war for Ukraine, Russia may start the war again later. No bilateral or multilateral security guarantees for Ukraine will guarantee sustainable peace, security and stability, and will not stop the Kremlin’s neo-imperial appetites, but rather, on the contrary, will be an eternal irritant for Russia.

Today, Putin's Russia has turned from a bad neighbor which is ready to negotiate into an existential enemy whose goal is the complete destruction of the Ukrainian state, further expansion to the West and the complete destruction of the EU and the NATO bloc. Consolidation of the Alliance countries together with Ukraine can stop Russia's aggression and punish it for systemic violations of international law.

Ukraine is the only NATO partner country that has participated in all Alliance operations since the 1990s (Naval Shield, Afghanistan, training mission in Iraq, etc.). NATO must strengthen its eastern flanks given the current situation, so Ukraine, with a qualified combat army and Western weapons, can become a full-fledged powerful NATO flank.

Therefore, only Ukraine's accession to NATO will not allow another war on the European continent in the long term. In turn, Moscow will continue its territorial expansion in case of denied application for Kyiv.

It is necessary to stop using the “special partnership” or “deep cooperation” concept, which in the modern history have already exhausted themselves. This formula for the relation should be changed. The main goal of such relations should be Ukraine joining NATO.

On the whole, it is impossible not to note the serious transformation of attitudes towards the idea of Ukraine joining NATO. Russia's full-scale invasion in Ukraine has made the Alliance even stronger and more consolidated. Putin certainly did not count on this. Fewer and fewer countries are considering the idea of Ukraine's membership with an eye on Moscow, which used to throw threats in the context of the expansion of the Alliance, and Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov said back in January 2022 that NATO needed to "collect the bag" and go to the borders of 1997. But having suffered a fiasco in Ukraine, the Russian Federation can no longer dictate the terms and it had to swallow the entry of Finland, just as it will soon have to swallow the entry of Sweden, and then Ukraine. What can I say, Putin is not able to ensure security even within the country, the recent rebellion by Prigozhin clearly showed this, when an armed gang was able to practically approach Moscow without hindrance and only concessions to the rebels, and in fact paying off from them, kept Putin in power. All of this is yet another sign of Russia's weakness and a historic new window of opportunity for Ukraine's entry that will end Europe's gray areas and lay the foundations for the new security architecture Europe urgently needs.
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