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Ukraine Will Never Join NATO. It's Time To Admit It

  • The big EU powers will never permit it
  • Wishful dreamers in Washington, Poland and Ukraine should stop talking about it as if it is possible, because such empty talk just damages relations with Russia
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This article originally appeared in The American Conservative

NATO members don’t want Ukraine in the alliance and Ukraine won’t be permitted to join

In a recent Spiegel article, prominent German journalist Christoph Schult criticizes NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg for commenting on possible Ukrainian membership in NATO:

And herein lies the problem: Only a small minority — comprised primarily of the Baltic states and Poland — currently support Ukrainian accession to the alliance.

All others adhere to the principle that each accession should not only be beneficial to the new member, but also to the community as a whole.

It’s difficult to see at the moment how Ukraine might benefit NATO.

In that sense, there is only one right answer in response to Poroshenko’s musings.

It’s the one formulated by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “I see a partner relationship between Ukraine and NATO, but not membership,” the foreign minister told SPIEGEL ONLINE last week.

Or, to put it more simply, the question of Ukrainian membership isn’t even on the agenda.

Indeed, NATO would be better off if it explicitly ruled out the possibility of future Ukrainian membership and laid this issue to rest once and for all.

The optimal time to have done that was several years ago when Ukraine affirmed that it would not join any military alliance, but instead the alliance insisted on “keeping the door open” to Ukraine.

Since the new government has changed Ukraine’s position on alliance membership once again, it is up to the alliance to dispel any illusions about the country’s prospects of joining.

Merely stating the obvious–that most NATO members don’t want Ukraine in the alliance and Ukraine won’t be permitted to join–could help reduce tensions with Russia and could possibly make a political settlement between Ukraine and Russia easier to reach.

Ukraine isn’t ever going to be part of NATO because it would be a huge liability for the alliance, and it is long past time for U.S. and alliance officials to make that clear.

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