Interfax-Ukraine recently cited Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that Ukraine possesses all the capabilities required to achieve NATO candidate status, whether or not it is offered it at next week’s summit.
On June 8 he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “We support Ukraine membership in NATO. It currently has all of the tools it needs since the Membership Action Plan was created, a number of other very important tools were developed to help countries prepare for possible NATO membership, including an annual program that Ukraine benefits from. In our estimation, Ukraine has all the tools it needs to continue to move forward in this direction.”
He also implied that there was a split in the ranks of NATO members over whether to offer the Membership Action Plan to Kiev. Though he didn’t spell it out, a good surmise is that many member states aren’t as enthusiastic as others about the prospect of having to go to war with Russia over an alliance Article 5 commitment.
Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, speaking at a Democracy in Action: Zero Corruption Conference on June 7, said that Ukraine has made “tremendous strides” in adopting NATO-mandated reforms in all facets of government and the private sector, including a recent national security strategy and national military strategy, required for full membership.
She was paraphrased in the Ukrainian press stating Ukraine is a critical partner on the front line of Russian aggression. Specifically, she denounced what she labeled Russia’s occupation of Crimea and fueling the armed conflict in the Donbass and in the process “attempt[ing] to change borders by force.” A serious enough accusation as the 80th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union approaches.
In her own words, “We must not accept this as a fait accompli. Russia’s aggression is not only a matter for Ukraine, it is a threat to Europe, to the United States and to the stability of the international order.” She added that her department – the Pentagon – will continue to “maintain a robust advisory effort to help modernize Ukraine’s military in line with NATO principles and standards.”
The National News Agency of Ukraine ran a feature quoting Phillip Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation and adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University, asserting Ukraine has successfully adopted more NATO standards and procedures (292 by his count) than a third of the military bloc’s members. That is, Ukraine is more NATO than a third of NATO itself.
In his own words: “The Armed Forces of Ukraine are the strongest in Europe. They have adapted and adopted more NATO standards and procedures than ten countries, which have recently joined NATO, in total. To understand the contribution to NATO’s security: the Armed Forces of Ukraine are larger and more capable than the armed forces of the mentioned ten countries combined.”
Ukraine is the sixth most populous of strictly European countries. It’s military potential, not to mention its location – in or out of NATO – offers the U.S. and NATO a decisive edge in any future conflict with Russia.
Philips advocates Ukraine’s NATO membership, not surprisingly. Though Western planners may prefer Ukraine to be a NATO asset without being a formal one, thereby sustaining a strategic ambiguity highly disadvantageous to Russia.
Rick Rozoff is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.