News / Europe

Analysts: NATO Membership for Ukraine Unlikely Anytime Soon

A meeting at NATO's headquarters (file photo)
A meeting at NATO's headquarters (file photo)

Ukrainians go to the polls January 17 to elect a new president.  Current leader Viktor Yushchenko is a strong advocate for Ukraine's membership into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  But that membership is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Ukraine and Georgia have expressed interest in becoming NATO members.  The Bush administration strongly supported their membership bids.  But at the April 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, member countries declined requests by both nations to begin the process of accession known as a "Membership Action Plan".  The final communiqué simply said NATO leaders agreed that "these countries will become members of NATO" - but no time frame was given.

A former senior State Department official in the Bush administration, David Kramer, who was responsible for Eurasian and European affairs says both countries have to overcome numerous obstacles before becoming NATO members.

"Joining NATO means meeting the criteria for joining NATO - countries can't simply fill out an application and become a member the next day.  They do have to undertake reforms that include political, economic as well as security reforms.  And membership is a long process - it does not happen quickly.  And so in some respects, in different areas, Georgia and Ukraine have made progress in these regards.  But in other areas, in other parts of reform, they have a long way to go.  So membership for Ukraine and Georgia is not going to be in the offing anytime soon."

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has been pushing for NATO membership since he assumed power five years ago.  But he is on the verge of losing his job as voters go the polls this Sunday to elect a new president.   Public-opinion surveys put Mr. Yushchenko far behind the two front-runners: Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich, head of the powerful "Party of Regions" in the Ukrainian parliament.

David Marples from the University of Alberta [Canada] looks at Ms. Tymoshenko's and Mr. Yanukovich's stand on NATO membership. "Tymoshenko is a little unclear on what would happen with NATO . Yanukovich is opposed to it, but he would probably agree to a referendum.  And all the polls so far have suggested that most people would vote against it: something like 55 or 60 percent, which is a very high figure in a referendum, would vote against Ukraine joining NATO," he said.

Russia has been vehemently opposed to Ukraine's bid to join NATO.  Analysts say as a result of President Yushchenko's attempts to join the alliance, relations between Kiyev and Moscow are at an all-time low. 

But many experts, including Robert Legvold from Columbia University, say  NATO membership appears to be less of an issue now than it was five years ago at the beginning of the Yushchenko administration.  "One of the interesting things about this election is no candidate, no single candidate, not even Yushchenko, who is after all one of the 18 candidates, is raising the issue of NATO membership in this presidential campaign.  Both objectively in terms of Ukraine's relations with NATO and in terms of the politics of it in Ukraine, as reflected in this presidential election, Ukraine is farther away from NATO membership than before," he said.

Legvold says that has a lot to do with NATO's perception of Ukraine. "And that is that Ukraine is seen less and less as a fit member of NATO, because it has not been able to deal with these underlying structural problems: it has made a little bit of progress in terms of military reform, but not in terms of corruption or political stabilization or advancing in a way that would make it anything other than for NATO, a basket case to take on.  And NATO has had enough trouble dealing with, just as the European Union, with the enlargements of the past," he said.

Ukraine is also vying to be a member of the European Union.  But experts say Kiyev has even less of a chance to become an E.U. member because the standards for getting into the European Union are much tighter than they are for membership in NATO.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs