Dreams About NATO Is Just Posturing: Oleg Tsarev on the Desire of Ukraine to Join the Alliance

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed a law on the priority of the country’s membership in the bloc of NATO. Poroshenko reported about such a joyful-for-the-Kiev-regime event on his Facebook page. The guarantor of the Ukrainian constitution also added that the country is waited by active work on reforming the sectors of security and defense, which will bring Ukraine into the military-political bloc.

The former deputy head of the parliamentary faction Party of Regions, the presidential candidate of Ukraine in the 2014 early elections Oleg Tsarev in conversation with the correspondent of the Federal News agency noted that Poroshenko is in a difficult internal political situation and tries to save himself with new promises.

“Poroshenko’s rating in Ukraine promptly falls, and in this situation he needs the support of a ultrapatriotic audience — the Ukrainian radicals. All his statements and initiatives are aimed at getting support and to look like the main russophobe. He already forgot how he promised to hold a referendum on accession of the country to NATO. I don’t exclude that the referendum after all will take place, because people became tired of war, and for many of them NATO membership is an opportunity to stop the war that is ongoing in the southeast of the country,” comments Oleg Tsarev for the FAN.

Another thing is that in NATO nobody waits for Ukraine. The question about the accession of the country to the military-political bloc was brought up and postponed an uncountable number of times, being followed by scandals and the disruption of the work of the Ukrainian parliament. Thus, in 2014, the Rada refused the non-bloc status of Ukraine. On February 2nd, 2017, President Poroshenko stated in an interview to the German media group Funke his intention to hold a referendum on accession to the North Atlantic Alliance, and on June 8th, 2017, the Verkhovna Rada approved bill No. 6470, which recorded the achievement of Ukraine’s membership in NATO instead of the achievement of the criteria necessary for membership in the bloc.

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The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in turn stated that Ukraine is still a long way away from finding itself in the ranks of members of the alliance, and a number of experts interpret the phrase “a long way away” to be at least 20 years. Despite this, Poroshenko considers that if by 2020 he will elevate the Armed Forces to the criteria of NATO, then he will be received in the bloc with open arms.

Since February, 2016, foreign instructors try to retrain the command structure of the Ukrainian Army according to the NATO standard, but as is noted in reports, the military “couldn’t refuse the archaic and centralized leadership of troops in the Soviet style”. Also, among the shortcomings of the Ukrainian military the western instructors noted the “high level of bureaucratisation and the rejection of innovations at the top-level of the command”, and also “a lack of understanding by Ukrainian officers of the conceptual difference between a combat task and the aim of an operation”.

“You understand, for Poroshenko the end result isn’t important, it isn’t important for him whether the country will be taken into the European Union or not, the most important thing is to declare the aspiration to leave as far away as possible from Russia. It’s not accession to NATO that is important, but the demonstration of striving to be in the alliance. It is chatter for the sake of chatter, another statement, another law that has no practical application or sense. It is clear that accession to NATO now is impossible, but these authorities will do everything in order to ensure the support of officials from the alliance,” said Tsarev.

Also unclear is how Kiev is going to reform the sectors of security and defense. Ukraine is on the verge of full bankruptcy. The economy is in decline, actually all enterprises that could make military equipment and weapons are ruined or closed, and the majority of plants had contracts with Russia. The reforms that were started by Poroshenko will cost Ukrainians billions of dollars.

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Ukraine already incurred losses for $50 billion, waging war with its own people in Donbass. As the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Ivan Rusnak calculated, in 2014 Kiev every day spent on the war with the DPR and LPR $3-5 million. In 2017 the budget on strengthening defense capabilities totalled about 5% of GDP: this is the purchasing and production of new arms, the purchase of ammunition for soldiers, personnel training, and food. It should be noted that Kiev since 2014 regularly announces the launch of new arms, however affairs didn’t go further than exhibition samples. Unless the Ukrainian military engineers will be obliged to adapt the old Soviet tanks driven from the zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to NATO standards.

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