Former NATO chief proposes Ukraine joins without Russian-occupied territories
Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says that partial membership, without the territories occupied by Russia, would show Russia that it cannot stop Ukraine from joining the alliance
This is reported by The Guardian.
Rasmussen, who served as NATO Secretary General between 2009 and 2014, insisted that a partial membership plan for Ukraine would not freeze the conflict, but would instead warn Russia that it could not prevent Ukraine from joining the Western defence alliance.
He believes that Ukraine's NATO membership should not be postponed again next year.
The reason for the delay is that it is almost impossible to offer membership to a country at war, as NATO's Article 5 on collective self-defence requires all NATO members to come to the active defence of a country in conflict. Opponents of membership now say that NATO membership for the whole of Ukraine would effectively mean NATO declaring war on Russia.
By excluding Russian-controlled territory from NATO, the threat of conflict between Russia and NATO would be reduced, Rasmussen argues.
Rasmussen denied that the move would freeze the conflict and hand over Ukrainian territory to Russia. He said: "The absolute validity of Article 5 guarantees would deter Russia from intensifying attacks on Ukrainian territory inside NATO and thus free up Ukrainian forces to go to the front line."
However, he noted that Russia must have a clear message that any violation of NATO territory will be met with a response. According to him, this proposal is to some extent similar to the introduction of a no-fly zone for Russia, so that it cannot fly over Ukrainian territory or launch missiles at Ukrainian cities.
Discussions are underway to bring in military experts ahead of the next NATO summit to work out the details of the idea, including how a clear front line could be drawn, defining the territory controlled by Ukraine and the territory considered to be occupied by Russia.
He gave three main reasons why Ukraine is being offered membership.
Firstly, he said, Ukraine in NATO would act as a stronghold against a still-aggressive Russia.
Secondly, he said: "We have to realise that grey areas are dangerous. Neutrality in the old sense of the world no longer exists. Grey zones become a temptation for Putin to attack".
Thirdly, he argued that the Ukrainian army is now the most hardened army in Europe and will be an example for other European states.
He said that a total of 25 countries, in addition to the G7, are negotiating bilateral security agreements with Ukraine under an umbrella agreement called the Kyiv Security Treaty, which is intended to act as a bridge to full NATO membership. The treaty envisages large-scale arms transfers, enhanced intelligence sharing, and support for Ukraine's defence industry to enable it to produce weapons and ammunition more independently.
- During his visit to Berlin, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia had been preparing defensive lines for months, so the Ukrainian army's counteroffensive would be difficult and the war in Ukraine would last for a long time.