Ukraine at the Brussels Summit of NATO: without special results, but with the hope for the future
On July 11-12, 2018, a regular NATO summit was held, attended by the Ukrainian delegation headed by the President. It should be noted the atmosphere on the eve between the allies was quite tense. The main reasons of this were confusing position of the U.S. President, who still can not decide who is an enemy and who is ally and the lack of solidarity of NATO countries, which is increasing, and is the result of the Russian hybrid war against the West. The situation was complicated by the forthcoming meeting of Trump and Putin. Moreover, the head of the White House said that this meeting could be ‘the simplest’ against the background of the NATO summit.
This situation was rather unfavourable for Ukraine. On the eve, Hungary added fuel to the fire. Budapest sent a written warning to Brussels, saying although it agreed to Ukraine's participation in the summit, but will block any decision regarding the official Kyiv and tried to prevent President Poroshenko participation in the summit.
Before the Alliance's meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Ukraine should not wait to join NATO's Enhanced Opportunity Program. At the same time the country can rely on further the support of the Alliance.
However, the meeting of NATO leaders and the participation of the President of Ukraine brought some results. NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting, which Hungary was blocking, took place in Ukraine-Georgia-NATO format. The final document after the meeting was promulgated as a ‘statement of the chairman’, that is, the Secretary-General. The Alliance expressed its readiness to continue to provide support to Kyiv for reforms, emphasizing the importance of the practical implementation of reforms, including in the security sector.
The disagreements between politicians were not influenced the adoption of the Final Summit Declaration, which was signed by all NATO members, which confirmed the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine. Declaration confirmed validity of the results of the Bucharest Summit (2008) according to which Ukraine and Georgia ‘one day will become members of the Alliance’. ‘We stand firm in our support for Ukraine's right to decide its own future and foreign policy course free from outside interference. In light of Ukraine's restated aspirations for NATO membership, we stand by our decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit and subsequent Summits’  – says the Brussels Summit Declaration.
Among the other things, the declaration contains rigid statements regarding the Russian Federation. In particular:
- Russia’s aggressive actions, including the threat and use of force to attain political goals, challenge the Alliance and are undermining Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order;
- Russia has breached the values, principles and commitments which underpin the NATO-Russia relationship, as outlined in the 1997 Basic Document of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and 2002 Rome Declaration, broken the trust at the core of our cooperation, and challenged the fundamental principles of the global and Euro-Atlantic security architecture;
- strongly condemned the illegal annexation of the Crimea, ‘which we (NATO) will not recognize. We are especially concerned by the harassment and discrimination against the Crimean Tatars and other members of local communities’;
- NATO urged Russia to cease all political, financial, and military support to militant groups and stop intervening militarily in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and to withdraw troops, equipment, and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine etc.
At the same time, the declaration notes that NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. This position of NATO is negative for Ukraine. After all, the Alliance does not want to annoy Russia and give Ukraine promises of membership to keep the window of dialogue with Moscow. However, this logic of NATO further threatens the security of the region. Russia is provoking and will continue to provoke NATO to a military confrontation by requiring more and more geopolitical concessions until Alliance agree to review the existing system of world order. Such a ‘compromise’ ultimately discredits NATO as a security and defense organization. Therefore, the Alliance should remember the international crimes of Russia (which are partly mentioned in the final declaration) and accordingly treat it and not show any sentiment towards Moscow. At the moment, we are observing a lack of full awareness of all hybrid threats coming out from Russia.
Ukraine should also have a clear political will and should demonstrate its ability to ensure regional security. So, according to expert estimates, Ukraine's contribution to international security (almost 6% of GDP for the security and defense sector) is far outweighed what we receive from the international community in the form of assistance.
John Bolton – National Security Advisor of the United States accurately noted: ‘Joining Ukraine and Georgia to NATO will allow the destruction of the uncertainty zone between the Alliance and Russia, which Putin is now using. (It is possible) even despite the tragic loss of the Crimea. By including them to a common deterrent system, that proved effectiveness (because it could convince Russia not to use force against NATO members), we will be able to prevent future outbursts of Russian aggression’.
Russian President Vladimir Putin fully understands this. He stated ‘pulling’ Ukraine and Georgia into NATO is ‘a direct threat to Russia’. ‘On similar aggressive steps that are direct threat to Russia, we will react in proportion’, – he said at a press conference. The Russian president also threatened that ‘the colleagues who play on the aggravation should think about the consequences’.
Thus, at the NATO summit, Ukraine received positive signals about further cooperation with NATO, however, there was no significant breakthrough in relations with the Alliance. The NATO summit in Brussels confirmed the open door policy and the decision of the 2008 Bucharest Summit; demonstrated that Hungary can not block the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine; NATO agreed to consider a request from Ukraine to join the Interoperability Partnership Initiative. At the same time, a number of problems have been identified in NATO, which are reduced to quarrels between allies, mainly between the United States and Europe. Another issue is the future reformation of the political landscape of Europe and its borders, which is always the case when the system of international relations is change. However, the need for security remains. The Alliance is worth to save it. And Ukraine should remember the clear formulation of the Bucharest summit of NATO that it will be a NATO member under two conditions: if it wants it and if it meets the criteria. And we must achieve these conditions.