Allowing Ukraine to join NATO is akin to pulling the pin on a grenade and waiting to see what happens. The threat of Ukraine’s admittance to NATO was one of the stated reasons that prompted Russia to invade Ukraine. Pro war advocates claimed this was nonsense and there was no plan to admit Ukraine into NATO. That claim was dubious at best.
Still, if there were discussions and negotiations taking place regarding Ukraine’s admittance into NATO, that discussion ended when Russia invaded Ukraine. If Ukraine’s admittance into NATO was one of the issues that caused the war to begin, threats to allow admittance would only prolong the war or end any future peace treaties. It became a moot point.
Well, that actually isn’t true. While Russia and Ukraine are at war, there are those that are still advocating that Ukraine be admitted to NATO. A Neocon organization called the Atlantic Council just released an article discussing security options for Ukraine, including admittance into NATO.
It appears that those holding this view give absolutely no credence to NATO expansion as provocative rather than a deterrence. The Obama backed Ukrainian color revolution lead to the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. It would appear that this was provocative rather than a deterrence. At the very least an equal focus on avoiding provocation should be employed.
The Atlantic Council argues its case for Ukraine joining NATO:
There is a strong case for Ukrainian membership in NATO. The most obvious argument is that deterrence based on assurances, partnerships, threat of sanctions, and military assistance has failed Ukraine twice. For the long-term security of Europe, deterrence cannot be allowed to fail again. This is especially true with regard to a country that has sacrificed so much for its freedom. It has fulfilled most of the criteria of the Membership Action Plan, including the economic, political, and military requirements. Ukraine deserves NATO’s full protection. With the guarantee of long-term security, Ukraine will be able to participate in any future negotiation with Russia with greater confidence. In addition, during the past fifteen months of conflict, Ukraine has built firm cultural, political, and security bridges with all NATO members and with the European Union. Importantly, NATO membership for Ukraine would not be a one-way street. Ukraine’s military is one of the most capable and certainly the most battle tested in Europe. They are fully trained on a wide array of NATO munitions and thus interoperable with NATO forces. Their knowledge of how Russia fights would be of incalculable value to the alliance.
Let’s unpack this paragraph starting with an examination of what exactly the ‘deterrence’ would be?. The deterrence would be military conflict. Article 5 of the NATO treaty essentially says an attack on one member of NATO is considered an attack on all. While it may be true that there is a little wiggle room in the wording that a military response is not required, it is a high probability, and not doing so would likely crumble the alliance. If the deterrence is a military response, then inclusion of Ukraine in NATO would be another provocative action. Furthermore, it creates a tripwire for escalation of any future military conflict.
At NATO’s July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, there are a few paths toward NATO membership for Ukraine being considered. One is to fast track membership immediately upon a ceasefire with Russia. There are other options that would not be so quick. There are also non NATO membership alliances being discussed. One is admittance into the European Union. The European Union does not have the defense cause that NATO has, but it does require aid and assistance by all means in their power in the event of military aggression. Other proposed actions would be possible unilateral initiatives by the United States. This would call on Congress to ‘Pass a concurrent resolution pledging to continue to provide necessary weapons to Ukraine after a cease-fire to ensure that Russia does not have the advantage to attack Ukraine again.”