The formula “Ukraine will join NATO at the end of hostilities” seems to make sense from a diplomatic point of view. Vitali Portnikov, Ukrainian journalist and analyst, nevertheless raises a question here: if the end of the Russian war against Ukraine is to lead directly to Ukraine joining NATO, will Russia one day want to end to this war? After all, prolonging the war would become a guarantee that Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration remains paralyzed.
For Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, unconventional solutions are needed, but they depend on the will of the leaders of the main Alliance countries. In other words, Russia must be sure that no matter how much military action it takes, it will not be able to prevent Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration. This is also the surest way to end the war.
Many political fanatics still believe that if Ukraine can be persuaded to accept Russian ‘acquisitions’ of territory, the war will stop immediately and the Kremlin will accept Ukraine’s NATO membership without insisting. on its neutrality. But this is possible only if one believes that Putin really only wanted to take over Crimea and Donbass. In reality, the occupied territories are only a springboard for the occupation of the whole of Ukraine.
Putin must understand that the bridgehead logic can no longer be used, that Ukraine cannot be occupied by its forces, and that the priority of international law will remain the determining element in the relations between the civilized world and Russia.
For this reason, Ukraine is not alone in needing to join NATO to guarantee its security and to be certain that a Russian attack will not happen again. NATO needs Ukraine’s membership to demonstrate that the alliance reliably upholds the very principles of international law and security, and is unwilling to tolerate their violation.
But this is a general approach. As for the concrete measures, they must be negotiated by the leaders of the member countries of the Alliance. Several themes stand out. Can Ukraine really not become a member of NATO as long as the war lasts? Could his candidacy be approved at the Vilnius summit, as discussed by Jens Stoltenberg and Volodymyr Zelensky during the NATO Secretary General’s visit to Kyiv in April? Could security guarantees be given to Ukraine on the model of those given to Sweden and Finland after the announcement of their candidacy for NATO? Could these guarantees be extended to the entire territory of the country or only to the territory where there is no military action or Russian claims?
The fate of Ukraine and that of Europe will depend on the answers to these questions. We can of course think that the answers can wait until the end of the war and that we must first arm Ukraine. But in this case, we risk waiting for the end of the war for a very, very long time.
Translated from Russian by Desk Russia