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You're reading: Steven Pifer: Ukraine and NATO; a course for disappointment

Following the visit to Kyiv by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine would seek to meet the alliance’s membership criteria by 2020. On July 17, he stated that Ukraine would pursue a membership action plan.

After more than three years of war with Russia, the desire to join NATO is entirely understandable.  Polls show public support for a membership course. However, Poroshenko is setting himself and Ukraine up for disappointment.

To be clear, Ukraine as a sovereign state has a right to choose its orientation and to join alliances.  All member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe—including Russia—accepted that in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act.

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What I've been hearing is that Russia won't attack the Baltics or Poland because they're NATO. Wouldn't that apply to Ukraine as well if it was a member? As for the conflicts, Russia would either withdraw or absorb the Donbass portion it occupies. For NATO security, Ukraine may just allow that.

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