Military Races-2020: We don’t need NATO - we need weapons?

Military Races-2020: We don’t need NATO - we need weapons?These days, NATO question became once again the key point on the agenda for mass media of the most different states: both Montenegro's inclusion into the Alliance structure and a possibility of Ukraine's accession to the organization in 2020 are actively discussed.

Montenegro: how to escape from Moscow's embraces

Concerning the new NATO member—Montenegro—everything is rather simple. Many analysts are sure that the Prime Minister Milo Dzhukanovich skillfully used the Western "alarm" caused by the Russian attempts to strengthen the traditional Balkan alliances in Serbia and Montenegro. Having decided 10 years ago to go forward into the direction of the West and having relied on NATO membership in NATO and the membership in the European Union, in 2014 Dzhukanovich finally risked to lose the Russian money coming from tourism, trade and investments in real estate. The same year he supported in the United Nations' Organization the sanctions against Russia because of events in Ukraine and went to Washington where he asked the Vice-president Joe Biden to demand from NATO the further advance to the East in response to the Ukrainian crisis. As a result in December, 2015, after 10 years of lobbying—contrary to Moscow's discontent and expectations—he received the invitation to enter the Western alliance. And on May 19, 2016 the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of NATO countries signed in Brussel the Protocol on Montenegro's accession to NATO.
Military Races-2020: We don’t need NATO - we need weapons?

The Prime Minister of the country Milo Dzhukanovich who was present at a signing ceremony received as a gift "the historical pen" with which the Ministers of Alliance's countries signed the document. From this point and until the end of ratification process Montenegro received the functions of the observer in North Atlantic council, and after ratification which can take—by estimates of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg—for about a year, this country will become the full 29th member of the Alliance.

The keynote of the Russian means of propaganda on this event was at once outlined by the statements of the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov. "NATO is a product of confrontation time, it is the tool created for confrontation. And it is controversial issue whether such a tool—created in due time—nowadays can make a contribution to the issue of ensuring the general European stability and safety", Putin's herald declared, and it is unnecessary to add something else, because in Russia everybody knows that "NATO is the Evil". Even if the most moderate and careful news agency TASS surely declares that "according to analysts' opinion, NATO's plans of advance to the East forces Russia to think of the adequate measures in response".
Military Races-2020: We don’t need NATO - we need weapons?

In their turn, the European mass media gave much more attention not so much to Montenegro as to the Netherlands where last week officially the missile shield was launched. This shield is intended for protection of NATO member-States against the possible ballistic missiles launched from the territory of any of the countries, located to the East from the Alliance's borders. Surely, Vladimir Putin is the one the least pleased with the news, but still the Russian mass media reasonably do not argue on this event. As well as about the opening—at the beginning of May—of one of the military bases in Romania.

And at last, one more important aspect which is actively discussed by the European mass media: tomorrow's debates (on the 25th of May) in Sweden, concerning the ratification of the Agreement on "Providing With Forces and Means of the Host Country" (Host Nation Support Agreement) which will facilitate for NATO an opportunity to use the Swedish territory, its ports and bases during the military trainings, and also in force majeure situations.

But we will return back to Montenegro. What follows from all this and has to be noted by Ukraine? The emphasis needs to be placed on several digits and the facts. First, the full way from the decision to enter NATO to the accession took exactly 10 years (in this regard it is pertinent to remember about the mutual desire of two Viktors—Yushchenko and Yanukovych—"to play" with NATO in 2004. However, the last, being the President, refused this idea). Secondly, the discontent concerning NATO inside Montenegro was extremely actively warmed up by the Orthodox Church (actually, the same should be expected from the Moscow Patriarchy in Ukraine). Thirdly, and nearly the most important, Montenegro accurately showed to all Eastern European countries that the entry of the country into NATO represents, first of all, the result of long-term reforms and consistent pro-European policy, but not the modern weaponry. Just for understanding: one modern fighter costs more than the whole military Montenegro's budget (therefore the airspace of Montenegro will be protected by the Italian Air Force).

Ukraine: our purpose—2020?

Military Races-2020: We don’t need NATO - we need weapons?

The "NATO" question in Ukraine was inflamed with a new force last week when the scheduled meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine took place on May 20. During the meeting the Strategic defense bulletin was approved, which defines the main objectives and the directions of reforming of the Ukrainian defense sphere. Not only was this document prepared in close cooperation with advisers from NATO member-States, but it also suggests to reform completely —till 2020 —the controlling system of the Armed Forces of Ukraine according to NATO standards. The document is characterized by concreteness of certain tasks and the establishment of rigid terms as their performance is concerned. This fact triggered the appearance of the mass media's headings like "Ukraine Will Join NATO in 2020". When it comes to time factor, most likely, that everything will not be so smooth and easy-cheesy (it has been already declared both in Lithuania, and in Poland). But the forecast of the President of European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker —who declared that Ukraine will not enter NATO in the nearest 25 years NATO—does not seem to be the prognosis of the serious politician any more.

Let's assume that the Strategic defense bulletin's terms will be strictly carried out. What, in that case, can prevent the entry of Ukraine into NATO?

First and foremost, it is worth pointing to the steady myth that if the country has any territorial disputes, then it cannot enter NATO. The myth is steady, although in the NATO Charter there is nothing of that kind. This is also confirmed by the explanations of the representative of the NATO Commission for Eastern Europe. Another question is whether it is necessary fo the USA to be involved in such a complicated situation, admitting so serious problem into NATO? The answer is obvious: if it is necessary they will accept us both without the Crimea, and without Donbass. But anyway, by 2020 a lot of things can change.

The next issue is how serious will be political support of Alliance inside Ukraine (at least at the level of the Prime Minister)? It is a controversial issue, though in 2016 the situation seems quite obvious. The other day the NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg announced good news: on July 8, 2016 in Warsaw, during the Alliance summit, the top-level meeting of the commission Ukraine—NATO will take place. Undoubtedly it represents an accurate sign of political support of Ukraine in these hard times from the part of the Alliance. However it is somewhat alarming that at this meeting, the main attention —as the General Secretary announced—will be paid to the discussion of issues related to the "practical cooperation" of Ukraine with the Alliance. And though it is very important issue—especially in the conditions of external aggression against our State—we hope that in Warsaw the meeting's results will not be limited only to it.
Military Races-2020: We don’t need NATO - we need weapons?
Here what is told about it by Vladimir Handogy, the President of the Ukrainian Association of Foreign Policy, the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador:

We would like to believe that on the summit the President of Ukraine will present the accurate strategy of our relations with the Alliance, as the most effective mechanism of a safety control of its members. Our ultimate goal is the entry of Ukraine into NATO. It is really necessary to declare it, because a weak articulating of this position leads to an undermining of belief that it is the first-priority priority issue both for external and internal security of Ukraine. In particular, the decrease of public support of the course towards the entry of Ukraine into NATO also testifies to this fact. We should also remind the States-members of the final Ukraine-NATO committee's document, accepted in Bucharest in 2008. In it at the highest level was accurately declared:" Ukraine will be a member of NATO". It seems that recently some of our political partners partially forgot about his important political document. And, as it was earlier, they began to look back at Moscow while considering the question of the future membership of Ukraine in the Alliance. Perhaps, they are pushed to it by the lack of accurate unambiguous signals from the Ukrainian top political management concerning the irreversibility of our course towards acquisition of membership in the Alliance. Maybe, the failures in performance of annual national programs of cooperation with NATO and permanent political crisis as well as inefficiency of reforms and on-going all-embracing corruption act as misleading signals. How is it possible to take seriously our statements about the movement of Ukraine towards NATO when only the handful of enthusiasts is really engaged in providing this course in the State? and the harmonous system of interdepartmental coordination for the movement towards the Alliance (destroyed at the time of Yanukovych's government) still is not recovered? What can we possibly talk about, when already more than half a year we do not have the Ukrainian Ambassador in NATO headquarters! On the other hand, Warsaw NATO summit is a test for the seriousness of our intentions to enter the circle of the civilized States, and —on the other hand—for the readiness of the Alliance itself to accept Ukraine in its ranks in the nearest future.

At the same time current politicians and experts clearly understand that Ukraine should not expect from Warsaw NATO summit the "card blansh" for the fastest accession to the Alliance. "Kiev was really invited to participate in the summit, however this participation is more likely symbolical," emphasized the French military expert Jacques Peze. "The Alliance is really interested in the active cooperation with the Ukrainian side, but Ukraine can only dream of a full NATO membership". But, you can agree, that everyone can have a dream, especially about being a member of "NATO family". To realize this craving, our country needs to do a lot, but nothing is impossible."

By the way, Ukraine should not necessarily change its Constitution in order to be accepted as a NATO member, as certain politicians declare. Actually if the extra block status was fixed in some formal documents of Ukraine, it was in the military doctrine accepted in 2011. The intention to become the extra block state in the future appeared in "The Declaration on the State Sovereignty", accepted on July 16, 1990. "There is a myth that the extra block status of Ukraine is enshrined in the Declaration on the State Sovereignty. In 1990 it was proclaimed only as an intention and when the Declaration on the State Sovereignty was accepted, Ukraine still was the part of the USSR. So, the extra block status is a popular myth which you should not distribute in the society",—comments the political scientist Vladimir Fesenko. With the acceptance of a new Military Doctrine in 2015 "the extra block problem" disappeared by itself. Let's remind that according to the Doctrine "Entering into the European Union and North Atlantic Alliance are the main foreign-policy objectives of Ukraine". Moreover, Ukraine directly undertakes the obligation to conduct military operations according to NATO standards, which is confirmed in general by the adoption of the above mentioned Defense bulletin.

One more important point is financial: will Ukraine have enough money for the accession to NATO? In a new Military Doctrine of Ukraine it is mentioned that there the necessity to spend not less than 3% of Gross Domestic Product of every year for army purposes. Certainly, the percent is more than generous. For example, average NATO countries spend only 2% of their gross domestic product for defense industry. But with a present economic situation in Ukraine it is ridiculous and amounts to $2-2,5 billion. At the same time the neighboring Poland spends more than $10 billion. However, the current military expenses of Ukraine obviously exceed a three-percent minimum. For example, according to the Stockholm institute for World Problems' Studies, in 2015 the Ukrainian army received $3,6 billion. And it is equal to about 4,5% of the country's GDP in 2015. Certainly, all the same, the financing of military sphere in Ukraine remain one of the lowest in Europe, but Montenegro still managed to join NATO, and its "military budget" is even worse than ours.

Continuing to discuss the financial issue, it is necessary to declare the value of intangible assets with which Ukraine can use in order to fill up the moneybox under the conditional name "Buy NATO". And it is about new strategic allies of Ukraine, and first of all—Turkey.

Military Races-2020: We don’t need NATO - we need weapons?Last week the representatives of Armed Forces of Ukraine and Turkey signed the plan of military cooperation, and yesterday the President of Turkey Recep Erdogan declared that "cooperation between Ankara and Kiev gained the additional importance". And all this despite of the fact, that the strategic Ukrainian-Turkish military scheme also has to be implemented by 2020. During these 3,5 years the Parties intend to achieve progress in reforming and defense planning, education and troops' training. The plan also means an exchange of consultations and close active cooperation between the militaries. "The implementation of practical actions of cooperation in a military field will allow to strengthen, on the one hand, the relations with our southern neighbor, and, on the another hand—to direct efforts to achievement of the ultimate goal—readiness of the Ukrainian Armed Forces of Ukraine for NATO membership in 2020",—it is said in the message of the General Staff of Ukraine.

Summing up, it would be necessary to underline, that Ukraine has already paid too high a price for the inconsistent policy of "aggressor pacification", professed by some European states concerning the Russian Federation. It is too dangerous "to pay" the same price in the future. It is possible not only lose the national economy, but also the country in itself. And in this regard the accession to NATO is nearly the only, 100% real chance for an establishment of peace in Ukraine. In the Alliance's documents it is accurately recorded that the doors of NATO are opened for the democratic countries which profess the general values and correspond to the certain criteria. The representatives of NATO constantly speak about it. Perhaps, it is really a high time for Ukraine to use the chance and to show clearly that, first of all, Ukraine really wants to enter these doors and does everything possible to achieve this important goal?

Ivan Pravdin, "Vector News"

Translated by Maria Kryzhanovska

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