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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs