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Ukraine Wants to Join NATO and Fight Russia: U.S. Must Say No and Make Alliance an Issue of Security, Not Charity

December 26, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The Ukrainian parliament has repealed the law barring participation in NATO. As a sovereign state Kiev is entitled to ask to join the transatlantic alliance. The U.S. has an equal right, even duty, to answer no.

Throughout most of its young life Ukraine has looked both east and west. People wanted to take advantage of the bountiful economic opportunities in Europe and America while preserving commercial and cultural relations with Russia. The majority wanted to join the European Union but not NATO.

President Viktor Yushchenko, the disastrous 2005 election winner backed by the U.S., unsuccessfully pushed his country to join the Western military alliance. In 2010 his successor won approval of legislation promoting “nonalignment” and mandating “nonparticipation of Ukraine in the military-political alliances.” But after months of conflict and a revolution in government this week Ukraine’s Rada repealed that law. “Finally, we corrected a mistake,” said President Petro Poroshenko. “Ukraine’s nonaligned status is out.”

The vote is not the same as an application to join NATO and Ukrainian officials admit that their country will not soon satisfy alliance requirements. However, Poroshenko favors membership, as do a majority of Ukrainians. An application undoubtedly will be forthcoming if Kiev believes it will be approved.

Unsurprisingly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the move “counterproductive” and one that “only escalates confrontation.” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said a formal application “would turn Ukraine into a potential military adversary for Russia.”

The U.S. should warn Kiev not to look to NATO for the solution to its Russia problem.”

NATO officials responded to the Rada’s action with bland generalities. An alliance spokesman said “we respect the decision,” adding that “Our door is open and Ukraine will become a member of NATO if it so requests and fulfills the standards and adheres to the necessary principles.” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a group of visiting Ukrainian journalists that “Ukraine is a very valued partner of NATO.” State Department spokesman Marie Harf said: “Countries that are willing to contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic space are welcome to apply for membership.” However, no one actually issued an invitation.

In fact, joining could be counterproductive for Kiev. No doubt some Ukrainians imagine that NATO would protect them from Vladimir Putin, recovering lands lost to Russian-backed separatists and regaining Crimea from Moscow. In theory the world’s most powerful military alliance could do so. But if the consequence was a full-blown war, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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