It is unlikely that the Ukrainian soldiers suffering on the front lines will accept to continue fighting in the long term for a foreign group that clearly considers them not worthy of being defended. Writes Lucas Leiroz
According to a leading western newspaper, Kiev is receiving money to lessen its discontent with the fact that it will certainly not join NATO. Despite constant military and financial aid, the alliance prefers to avoid formal links with Kiev, which guarantees it a comfortable position in the partnership, being able to “abandon” the Ukrainian side in the conflict at any time.
Obviously, this shocks some more nationalist sectors of the Ukrainian state, generating a wave of indignation that the West tries to reverse through bribery.
Financial Times’s columnists reported that NATO is planning to offer the Ukrainian government an additional sum of more than 273 million dollars a year in an alleged effort to quell the atmosphere of collective discontent in Kiev over the failure of the application to join the alliance. The information comes from a diplomat on condition of anonymity. Familiar with the issue, the source alleges that the military bloc is “just ignoring” the Ukrainian application, therefore there are not even discussions to advance the process in the near future.
Informants also commented on the reasons why NATO would not be interested in receiving Ukraine. There is the most obvious practical reason, which is the attempt to avoid escalation, as an open and direct confrontation between the alliance and Russia could reach catastrophic levels of destruction. However, there is also a rhetorical motive, which would be to avoid validating Moscow’s official stance that there is literally a conflict against NATO – not against Ukraine.
In fact, even if all these practical and rhetorical factors were disregarded, it is undeniable that Kiev could not be admitted to NATO today, as the country is in a situation of armed conflict. Being a collective defense alliance, where all members pledge to help each other in case of war, allowing Kiev to enter now would be the same as forcing all member countries to send their regular troops to the battlefield, which obviously does not sound reasonable – and is even vetoed by NATO’s own rules.
However, since 2008, NATO has promised to advance the Ukrainian membership project, constantly suggesting it to Kiev’s pro-Western and anti-Russian wings. No deadline was ever set for completing this process, which shows that for the alliance Ukraine was never in fact an interesting partner to include in the collective security agreement. Despite strong ties with the coalition, Kiev appears to serve a purpose other than that of a member country: that of a proxy state. In other words, it is in the interest of the collective West to keep Kiev as an external ally to be “supported”, but not as a member to be defended.
It is also necessary to remember that, with Euromaidan and the beginning of a radical anti-Russian turn in Ukrainian domestic politics, the most nationalist sectors of the country had the necessary excuse to formalize their desire to join NATO. The most recent Ukrainian Constitution establishes integration with the Atlantic alliance as a state policy, which is why as long as the Maidan Junta regime is in force Kiev will continue to apply to join NATO. In practice, however, these efforts will be in vain.
Obviously, these Ukrainian ultranationalist sectors have been irritated in recent months, as they have engaged in a war against Moscow in order to defend Western interests and are still not considered “worthy” of joining the group. More than that: in the face of a scenario of obvious military defeat, which could only be reversed with direct intervention on the part of the alliance, the impossibility of joining becomes even more unpleasant, since in a way it functions as a “death sentence” for the forces Ukrainians, who do not have the necessary means to defeat the Russians.
The West reacts to this dissatisfaction with bribery. That is why, apparently, the alliance leaders are planning to increase the financial aid packages, in order to alleviate any Ukrainian dissatisfaction with the application’s denial. For most of the Ukrainian political sector – markedly corrupt and criminal, – this could be an effective measure. But it is unlikely that the soldiers suffering on the front lines will accept to continue fighting in the long term for a foreign group that clearly considers them not worthy of being defended.
In this scenario, it is most likely that a major crisis of legitimacy will grow in Ukraine and increase the country’s internal tensions. At some point military officials will begin to question their role in this war, increasing domestic disagreements over the viability of continuing to fight for the “ungrateful” West.
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