Volodymyr Zelenskyy: why is Ukraine still not in NATO?

NATO Secretary General with the President of ­čç║­čçŽUkraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 04 JUN 2019

In an interview with an American TV channel, the leader of Ukraine spoke about European integration plans, the Normandy format and Crimea

KIEV – If Ukraine were in NATO, there would be no escalation in the east of Ukraine and in the east of Europe. This was stated by the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky in an interview with HBO’s Axios program. The conversation took place on January 23, 2021, according to the press service of the Ukrainian leader on February 1.

«We are grateful for everything, but Ukraine does not just say in words that it wants to be an equal member of the Alliance, an equal member of NATO, because this is one of the most important points of security – the security that President Biden is talking about. How it is necessary to declare even more about the desire to join, if this is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine – direction to the European Union, European integration, as well as joining NATO?» – noted President Volodymyr Zelensky, answering the question of whether, «What do you need from the US side?»

At the same time, he stressed that the first question in his communication with the US leader would sound like this: «Mr. President, why are we still not in NATO?»

The President of Ukraine recalled in an interview that at the time of the outbreak of the war in 2014, the country was «no sanctions, no NATO», poorly trained, with an unmodernized army, but «we were able to keep the enemy out».

«Therefore, to say that Ukraine without NATO can do nothing – it is not true. But NATO – this is a powerful signal to everyone when they say – Ukraine is ours or Ukraine is not ours, you are not in limbo», – handwritten by the President of Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said that if he were the head of the republic in 2014, then «we would all die there in Crimea, but we would go there «little green men» were not allowed».

«And if they weren’t allowed there «little green men», then Russia would not help the separatists and would not be in the east of Ukraine», – he said about a likely scenario that could oppose the occupation of Crimea and part of Donbass.

He spoke about the results of the meeting in the Normandy format at the level of the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in Paris in December 2019.

«A year and one month has passed since the Normandy meeting, and I do not see any serious steps forward. Therefore, I say again: I believe that this – chatter. And Russia understands this very well», – said Vladimir Zelensky. For the effectiveness of this format, he is not averse to attracting the United States, this could, according to him, «strengthen negotiations».

Let us recall that Ukraine counts on comprehensive political and military support from NATO countries to obtain an Action Plan for membership in the Alliance. This was stated on December 1, 2020 by the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Andriy Taran.

According to the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the head of the department, addressing the ambassadors and military attach├ęs of the NATO countries, stressed that «we will look forward to your all-round political and military support for making such a decision at the next NATO summit in 2021».

Minister Andriy Taran noted that the country‘s course towards full membership in NATO is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine.

On the pace of rapprochement with the Alliance

Director of Foreign Policy and International Security Programs of the Razumkov Center, military expert Alexey Melnik notes that on such questions – on the date of NATO membership – the answer could be found in Ukraine itself.

«The United States has a voice that may be more significant among other members of the Alliance, but it is one vote in a decision that is taken by consensus. If you continue to walk on the topic, who should ask questions to whom, then Zelensky himself should try to answer this question, and not ask the President of the United States.», – Alexey Melnik says to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».

He believes that the processes of reforming the Ukrainian army are generally going in the right direction, but «the rate is lower than it should be».

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: why is Ukraine still not in NATO?

«But this is close somewhere to the maximum that Ukraine can afford in terms of rearmament. Parallel to other processes called achieving NATO standards», – emphasizes Alexey Melnik.

According to the military expert, there are also other factors that determine the level of a country’s preparation for NATO membership..

«Georgia, for example, has gone far ahead along this path, but nevertheless it does not give a guarantee, and we expect 50/50 whether Georgia will be invited to the MAP at the next NATO summit», – emphasizes Alexey Melnik.

The question is long overdue

Deputy Director of the Center for Army Research, Conversion and Disarmament Mikhail Samus notes that the issue of granting Ukraine and Georgia an Action Plan for acquiring NATO membership is long overdue.

«There are several tracks and questions about our readiness and the question of the political readiness of NATO members for Ukraine and Georgia to join the Alliance. From the point of view of the MAP, Ukraine and Georgia have long been ready for this.», – says Mikhail Samus to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».

He also emphasizes that questions about the willingness or unwillingness of Ukraine or Georgia to become NATO members – secondary, since in the Alliance itself there is no consensus decision on the beginning of the preparatory process for the accession of these countries.

«At the next NATO summit, it is unlikely that such a decision will be made, but in this case the position of the USA and Great Britain and other partners is important – such as Poland, Romania and the Baltic states, regarding the persuasion of countries that doubt that Ukraine and Georgia will strengthen the Alliance», – emphasizes Mikhail Samus.

He recalls that the failure to provide the MAP for Ukraine and Georgia at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest allowed the Kremlin to carry out a military-political offensive and show aggression in the post-Soviet space with impunity: first – against Georgia in August 2008, and in 2014 – against Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy: why is Ukraine still not in NATO?