Opinion: Stop Talking about NATO Membership for Ukraine

Published on Spiegel Online International, a Commentary by Christoph Schult in Brussels, Dec 2, 2014.

The president of Ukraine is talking up the idea of a national referendum to join NATO, an idea that the military alliance’s chief has openly supported. But such a debate is dangerous — because it divides member states and provides Putin with powerful ammunition … //

… Playing with Fire: … //

… Why is it even necessary for NATO officers to comment so frequently about Ukraine? Since the outbreak of the crisis, the alliance has expressed the opinion that the conflict cannot be resolved through military means. If that’s true, then wouldn’t it be better if Stoltenberg, Breedlove and company kept quiet?

Doing anything else is advantageous to Putin while at the same time sowing division in Europe. It makes it easy for the Russian president to blather about the supposed expansionist policies of the West. When it comes to the EU, of course, Putin is contradicting himself. He once said: “If the EU accepts Ukraine as a member, Russia, I think, would welcome this.” Last year, he suddenly and surprisingly changed course.

But Putin has always seen NATO membership for Ukraine as a red line. Even if NATO is focused on defense, it is still a military alliance. It can only be powerful, however, when all 28 member states share the same position. And herein lies the problem: Only a small minority — comprised primarily of the Baltic states and Poland — currently support Ukrainian accession to the alliance. All others adhere to the principle that each accession should not only be beneficial to the new member, but also to the community as a whole. It’s difficult to see at the moment how Ukraine might benefit NATO.
In that sense, there is only one right answer in response to Poroshenko’s musings. It’s the one formulated by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “I see a partner relationship between Ukraine and NATO, but not membership,” the foreign minister told SPIEGEL ONLINE last week.

Or, to put it more simply, the question of Ukrainian membership isn’t even on the agenda.

(full text).

Related Links:

Kernenergie: Ukraine meldet technische Probleme in Atomkraftwerk, im Spiegel Online, Dec 3, 2014: Im Südosten der Ukraine ist ein technisches Problem im Atomkraftwerk Saporischja aufgetreten. Ein Reaktorblock wurde heruntergefahren, es kam zu Stromausfällen. Erhöhte Radioaktivität sei nicht aufgetreten, teilten die Behörden mit …;

American, Georgian & Lithuanian get key jobs in Ukraine’s new govt, on Russia Today RT, Dec 2, 2014;

Kommentar zum Ukraine-Konflikt: Das gefährliche Gerede vom Nato-Beitritt, im Spiegel Online, ein Kommentar von Christoph Schult, Brüssel, Dec 3, 2014:
Präsident Poroschenko spricht von einer Volksabstimmung zum Nato-Beitritt der Ukraine, Nato-Generalsekretär Stoltenberg springt ihm bei – doch sie helfen damit weder der Ukraine noch der Nato. Sie nützen Putin und spalten das Bündnis …;

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The Power of Crazy Ideas, on TeleSUR english, by Justin Podur, Dec 1, 2014: A review of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein (Simon and Schuster, 2014), 576 pgs;

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Economy: The Ramsey-Keynes dispute, on RWER Blog, by Lars Syll, Dec 1, 2014;

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