Ukraine must recognize that NATO membership is not in it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message on Tuesday. According to observers, the head of state seems to be alluding to a possible compromise in the conflict with Russia.
The prospect of a possible Ukrainian NATO membership is unacceptable to Russia. Fear of this was partly the reason for the Russian invasion of Ukraine almost three weeks ago. Among other things, Moscow wants Ukraine to become ‘neutral’.
“Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We understand that,” Zelensky said in his message. “We have heard for years that the doors were open, but we have also heard that we could not join. It is a truth and it must be acknowledged.”
That recognition can be interpreted as a sign that there is room for concessions in the negotiations with the Russians. At the same time, it should be noted that Zelensky’s words do not equate to the firm guarantee that Ukraine will never become a NATO member, which Russia does demand.
Both sides are still far apart on the fundamental points: Ukraine wants Russia withdraw its troops from that country and Russia, in addition to Ukraine’s “neutrality”, wants to disarm the Ukrainian armed forces and replace Zelensky’s government, is supposed to be led by a Kremlin-friendly alternative.
If NATO’s door is not open, “then we need to work with the institutions that we can with,” Zelensky went on to say. That can help and protect Ukraine. He may be referring to, for example, cooperation with the European Union or bilateral treaties with other countries. In addition, there should be separate security guarantees, according to the president. He also reiterated his call for more military assistance, such as the delivery of anti-aircraft missiles.
Ukraine was allowed to submit a kind of NATO membership request in 2008
Zelensky would have liked Ukraine to already be a member of NATO. At a NATO summit in 2008, the members decided that Ukraine could submit some kind of membership application, with the idea that it could eventually become a member. Ukraine would first have to meet a number of NATO requirements. This is how the country should tackle widespread corruption.
Although Ukraine has implemented many reforms in recent years, it has not yet achieved NATO membership. Russia always wanted the West’s guarantee that this will never happen. However, the United States and other countries refused to make that commitment. They believe that Ukraine can choose its own allies.
What is NATO?
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a political and military cooperation between thirty countries. In addition to the Netherlands and the United States, almost all EU countries are members. Canada and Turkey are also part of the organization.
- NATO was founded in 1949, a few years after the Second World War. The Netherlands has been part of NATO since its inception.
- The most important part of the treaty is Article 5: it states that an attack on one of the countries is seen as an attack on all of them.
- We also get questions about the difference with NATO. There is no such difference: NATO is the English translation of NATO and stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
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