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You're reading: On eve of May 20-21 Chicago NATO summit

The United States, once a strong advocate of Ukraine has been silent. Much of it can be explained by a change of administrations in both countries. Certainly, the Barack Obama administration has been less forthcoming on Ukraine than the George W. Bush administration. Undoubtedly, the Viktor Yanukovych regime has stifled what was once a grand design of European integration by ex-President Viktor Yushchenko and has transformed Ukraine into a global pariah. So then what is Ukraine’s current outlook for NATO membership?

The answer is unclear.

On March 26, 2009, a U.S. high-level bipartisan commission (Hagel-Hart Commission) recommended that the new American administration reach out to Russia in a number of ways, including the withdrawal of support for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. It recommended that the American government accept that "neither Ukraine nor Georgia is ready for NATO membership," and that the United States does not now have "a compelling security interest" in NATO membership for either country. The U.S. commission further recommended to its government "to develop options other than NATO membership" for Ukraine and Georgia and find other ways "to demonstrate a commitment to their sovereignty."
No doubt Russia’s policy of rearmament, renewed aggressiveness, and a demonstrated willingness to implement that part of its military doctrine which calls for military intervention in its "near abroad" to "safeguard" Russia’s "national interests" had a major impact on the Commission. Furthermore, political expediency, particularly in the Middle East, influenced this decision to sacrifice Ukraine and Georgia. Unfortunately, this Commission manifested ignorance of or disregard for NATO’s genesis, its history and purpose.

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