Relations between Russia and Ukraine have always been tense since independence. Following developments in Ukraine in 2014, Russia succeeded in annexing the Crimean Peninsula. Since then, relations between Ukraine and Russia have become increasingly strained. In addition, separatists in the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk established the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk under Russian protection in eastern Ukraine. (Photo quoted from Yahoo’s image)
Many in Ukraine believe that Moscow's actions in escalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russia's military movements and activities, blocking the passage of foreign ships in part of the Black Sea, increase Russia's military presence in the Black Sea is wider than in 2014. Meanwhile, the presence Russian troops on the Ukrainian border has raised concerns about Russia's offensive.
Ukraine is at the center of a new Cold War between Russia and NATO. NATO leaders have already openly supported Ukraine's membership in NATO. Kyiv's approach since 2014 has been to ask for more help from the West. Ukraine is a NATO ally but not an official member. It is struggling to persuade Ukraine's membership in NATO. But since 2008, many NATO members have opposed Ukraine's NATO membership roadmap.
On the one hand, because of the war in eastern Ukraine and the occupation of the Crimean peninsula, the majority of Ukrainians now support NATO membership. From Kiev's point of view, NATO membership is the safest and fastest way to restore peace and security in Ukraine. So NATO membership is the only way to end the war. In this regard, in 2019, Ukraine has included in its documents a new national security strategy and the reform of NATO membership and the development of a distinct partnership with NATO.
On the other hand, despite consultations and political support for Ukraine, and adopting measures to increase Ukraine's capabilities, etc. Ukraine's membership in NATO is facing a challenge.
However, with the accession in NATO, Ukraine will have more capabilities. But if Ukraine becomes a member of NATO (according to Article 5 of the Charter of this organization), an attack on this country will be considered an attack on all NATO members and will cause a reaction from NATO military forces.
Therefore, from NATO's point of view, there is no plan for Ukraine's membership in the current situation. Kiev must make many reforms to reach the level of NATO military standards.
Also, creating a NATO military umbrella for Ukraine is also difficult. In addition, major NATO powers may consider Russia's red line and national interests so that Ukraine will never join NATO. Despite the fact that 13 years have passed, the time of this country's membership has not been announced yet.
However, NATO-Ukraine relations have deepened since 2014. Ukraine has become NATO's sixth Advanced Opportunity Partner (EOP). NATO continues to condemn and not recognize the annexation of Crimea to Russia and its activities in eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea region.
NATO has also increased its presence in the Black Sea and maritime cooperation with Ukraine. In fact, NATO has supported Ukraine by strengthening security capabilities and defending Ukraine's capabilities.
In fact, any Ukrainian membership in NATO depends on internal, regional, and international factors and variables. Internationally, Russia remains sensitive to NATO expansion along its western borders. NATO is considering to strengthen its security and defense relations with Ukraine by holding exercises such as Sea Breeze 2021 with Ukraine, delivering modern weapons, providing military assistance, providing strategic advice and implementing security and defense reforms, assisting in the development of cyber-threat capabilities, strengthening defense training, and cooperating in the processes of purchasing defense equipment and developing technical standards.
Farzad Ramezani Bonesh
Senior Researcher and Analyst of International Affairs