CEPA: Grey Zones are Green Lights – Bring Ukraine Into NATO

2023-06-20 | NATO, Expert publications

By Kurt Volker. A fresh commitment to Ukraine’s NATO membership will shorten this war and prevent the next. NATO must go beyond its previous, empty pledge.

Despite all the good results that will emerge from the July 11-12 NATO Summit in Vilnius, there is only one issue of political salience — what will the alliance do about Ukraine’s aspirations to join? Right now, the allies are still consulting. No final decision has been reached.

Here’s my proposal. The Vilnius summit statement could read as follows:

We reaffirm our commitment from 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO and today have agreed to several measures that begin to operationalize this process with respect to Ukraine. We have upgraded the NATO-Ukraine Commission to a NATO-Ukraine Council, which will afford Ukraine the opportunity to participate on an equal footing with NATO Allies in a wide array of activities, sub-committees, and structures of the Alliance. The Membership Action Plan is no longer required as the next step on the path to Ukraine’s NATO membership, though we will continue to work with Ukraine through its Annual National Plan developed under the auspices of the NATO-Ukraine Council.  

We invite Ukraine to assign additional liaison officers at NATO commands and will launch a joint process of assisting Ukraine in developing a long-term national security strategy, national defense strategy, and national defense posture. We will launch a joint program of training to accelerate Ukraine becoming fully inter-operational with NATO Allies.  

NATO is the foundation for security in Europe as a whole. Grey zones and ambiguous security situations have been shown to contribute to conflict and aggression. European security will thus be strengthened by Ukraine’s NATO membership. The steps we take today will accelerate Ukraine’s admission as a member of the Alliance. We look forward to reviewing Ukraine’s progress toward membership at our next meeting in Washington, DC in August 2024.

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