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Monday, January 21, 2008

Ukraine Pleads for Immediate NATO Admission

The Jamestown Foundation's Vladimir Socor reports:

On January 16 Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and Parliament Chairman Arseny Yatsenyuk made public a joint letter to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, declaring Ukraine's readiness to advance to a Membership Action Plan (MAP) with NATO and requesting a decision to that end by the Alliance at its Bucharest summit in early April.

The three Ukrainian leaders' letter states that the country sees itself as part of the Euro-Atlantic security space; is determined to counteract threats to common security alongside NATO countries; and is committed to continuing its participation in NATO-led peacekeeping and anti-terrorist operations. The leaders state that progress already achieved within the NATO-Ukraine Intensified Dialogue constitutes a strong basis for advancing to a MAP.

Citing "deep and irreversible democratic changes [that] enable Ukraine to fulfill all the necessary criteria for NATO membership," the letter assures the Alliance that Ukraine would broaden and deepen reforms of the security and defense sector. Furthermore, the government intends to explain the merits of NATO-Ukraine cooperation more clearly to the Ukrainian public and significantly increase budget funding for such explanatory efforts. The people of Ukraine will in any case be "consulted [by the leadership] about the question of Ukraine's future membership in NATO."

Based on the country's readiness to undertake "new commitments" in its relationship with the Alliance, the three leaders trust that the upcoming summit would approve a decision whereby Ukraine would enter into a membership action plan with NATO (, January 16).

Elaborating on the letter, Presidential Secretariat deputy chief (responsible for foreign policy) Oleksandr Chaliy told journalists that the key policy issue involves upgrading the format of NATO-Ukraine relations, after the 2004-2007 Intensified Dialogue has been fully utilized and by now almost exhausted its potential. Chaliy drew more explicitly than the letter a distinction between membership and the MAP process, which he described as one stage toward the ultimate goal of membership (Interfax-Ukraine, January 16).

Declining to forecast a time frame for attaining that goal, Chaliy underscored the need to develop internal political support in Ukraine for NATO membership. At the end of the MAP process, the membership issue will be put to a referendum: "This is the clear position of the president, government, and parliament." However, this would be a "consultative" referendum. Chaliy pointedly noted that joining NATO is a matter for nations, not just leaders or governments. Meanwhile, Ukrainian diplomats are now holding talks with "key" NATO member countries to develop support for a MAP decision at the Alliance's summit (, UNIAN, January 16).

The three top leaders actually signed the letter to de Hoop Scheffer on January 11 (sending it presumably that day), but made it public on the 16th at the end of U.S. Senator Richard Lugar's visit to Ukraine. On January 10 the Tymoshenko-led cabinet of ministers announced its own action plan on foreign policy, including an unambiguously stipulated goal of full membership in NATO. However, the government's program also envisages that Ukraine's ultimate decision on membership would be taken "by referendum only" (UNIAN, January 10).

The imminence of NATO's summit clearly precipitated the Ukrainian leaders' letter, as the lead time to the summit is tightening and the allies' ability to work out a pre-summit consensus on this issue is becoming more problematic. In Ukraine itself, however, the governing coalition of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and the Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense bloc took office in December 2007 with a solid internal consensus regarding the goal of NATO membership. Yushchenko and his followers had been committed to this goal all along, although the president himself pursued it without consistency or resolve, allowing short-term partisan considerations at times to trump the strategic goal of joining or NATO and even decelerating cooperation programs. For her part, Tymoshenko embraced that goal late but convincingly during the home run to her second premiership, as stated in the landmark article she signed for the September-October issue of the U.S. journal Foreign Affairs and subsequent pronouncements.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's January 5 reelection, and the concurrent plebiscite that shows more than 70% Georgian public support for NATO membership, also encouraged the three Ukrainian leaders to send their letter to NATO. In debates within the Alliance from its 2006 Riga summit onward, supporters of membership action plans for Ukraine and Georgia have argued for a "package" solution to invite both countries to join MAPs at the Bucharest summit.

The letter and accompanying statements are replete with indirect references to the deficit of Ukrainian public support for NATO membership. Such support remains confined to some 20% of the overall electorate (stronger in western and weaker in eastern regions), according to public opinion surveys in the last few years. The support has actually declined to that level in the Orange revolution's aftermath. This situation explains not only the declared intent to launch more serious public information programs, but especially the reassurances that any decision on membership would ultimately be submitted to a referendum. Unsurprisingly, the presidency also envisages an escape clause whereby that referendum would be consultative.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the Ukrainian "leaders" (because the real leader of that country is the U.S. Ambassador to Kyiv) think that after massive brainwashing of their people they'll manage to have their country admitted to the NATO against the Ukrainian constitution (proclaiming the country's neutral status) and the NATO Charter (prohibiting the NATO admission of countries having foreign military bases in their territory - which Ukraine is, since the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol). But what are they going to gain from it? After a long history of the "civilized West"'s betrayal of its allies and followers - the latest being the cynical deceit of Gorbachev and Yeltsin - do they think that the USA will start a nuclear war for their sake?

La Russophobe said...

So let's see if we understand: The only way anyone can disagree with Russia, a country that has no allies, a sub-60 year male lifespan and sub-$4/hour average wage and which has destroyed itself not once but twice in the past century is by being "brainwashed"?

Uh, OK.

Anonymous said...

It's the single way for at least half of the Ukrainians still can't understand they are a separate state hostile to Russia. Though the Ukrainian leaders used a lot of democratic methods: from the forced Ukrainization (though coping the old way of the Ukrainian communists) to depriving the people of limited abilities of their right to vote at home.

Anonymous said...

1. At present the majority of Ukrainians oppose the accession of their country to the NATO, the only way to drag a positive answer in that respect from them at a referendum is massive brainwashing like the one which was done during the "Orange Revolution".

As to Russia's "sub-60 year male lifespan", it became such during Yeltsin's "democratic reforms" the West applauded. After 7 years of "Putin's despotism" it at last exceeded that level. And we know what the East European "allies" of the USA are really worth only too well: they are sycophants who always support what they think a winning party at the given moment. In the 1940s, they supported Hitler, in the 1950s, they supported Stalin, in the 1980s, they defected to the USA, but now, seeing that the USA is in decline and Russia is on the rise, they are improving their relations with it: the Bulgarians agreed to build the Burgas - Alexandropulos gas pipeline, effectively torpedoing the US-backed Nabucco project, and the Poles elected a new government opposing the deployment of American "ICBM interceptors" in the territory of Poland.

Anonymous said...

You seem to forget that NATO's goal isn't "screwing over the Russians" but "improving the US's security"
How in God's name will Ukraine, or Georgia, in NATO accomplish that? Do they add any strategically placed bases, do they add any competent fighting forces?
The answer to both questions, of course, is zero, but then NATO expansion hasn't been about actual military security for almost 20 years.