NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – is a defensive military alliance. It was formed in 1949 by 12 countries, including the US, UK, Canada and France. [What is Nato? BBC News offers a concise description]
Members agree to help one another if they come under armed attack.
NATO’s original goal was to challenge Russian expansion in Europe after World War Two.
After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 (Russia is one of the many Republicans that were part of the former Soviet Union that became their own countries, including the Ukraine), many of the Eastern European countries which used to be Russia’s allies in the Warsaw Pact were granted NATO membership.
Russia has long argued that NATO;’s acceptance of these Eastern European countries and republics that were once part of the former Soviet Union (for example, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) threatens its security. It has vehemently opposed Ukraine’s request to join the alliance, fearing this would encroach too closely on its territory.
When the Ukraine ceded from the Soviet Union one problem that arose is that the Ukraine had on its territory a substantial number of nuclear weapons that were developed by the former Soviet Union.
In 1994 The U.S., Russia, Great Britain all signed the Lisbon Accord. Under this accord, Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons and Russia pledged to not use military force against Ukraine, except in self defense.
Although Russia did not appear to oppose any direct threat to the Ukraine for 20 years. But, in 2014, after “The Revolution of Dignity” or “Maiden Revolution” in which the Pro-Russian Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych was chased from power, Russia backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea, which was part of the Ukraine.
The response by the international community to Russia’s annexation of crime was not especially significant; some countries, led by the United States placed some modest sanctions on Russia and engaged in extensive condemnation of Russia in the international community.
Starting in the spring of 2021, the US began to detect a significant military build-up of Russia’s forces along the Ukrainian border and on February 24, 2022 Russia launched a full invasion of Ukraine with the goal of topping the government and taking the entire territory.
Unlike wit the invasion of Crime, NATO has led a robust response to the Russian invasion, including a massive provision of military weapons systems and training.
While NATO has supported this response, it has not invited the Ukraine to become a NATO member, fearing that such inclusion will force NATO to war with Russia, as Article V of the NATO treaty requires members to come to defense of each other in the event of attack.
Although support for NATO membership is minimal amongst current member states and the Ukraine would have to be admitted by a unanimous vote of NATO members,, President Zelensky applied for NATO membership and some advocates argue the Ukraine should be allowed to join NATO.
*NATO membership will provide security guarantees that will protect Ukraine in the future
*Western democracy needs to build its alliances and the rules based international order
*Appeasement fails with authoritarian regimes – Ukraine membership in NATO stands up to Russian imperialism
*Russia has failed to live up to its promises to respect ukrainian sovereignty by invading Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea
*There is no need as long as NATO and other nations continue to support Ukraine with arms and humanitarian aid
*Ukraine is not ready to Join NATO – it doesn’t meet the requirements
*The U.S. is divided over whether Ukraine should become a member of NATO
*Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was driven by fears of NATO expansion – more expansion increases risk of conflict
*Ukraine falls short of NATO’s shared commitment to protecting minority rights
WHY IS HUNGARY ‘BLOCKING’ UKRAINE’S NATO ACCESSION? – Discrimination against ethnic minorities in Ukraine
We Poked the Bear – How Russia was provoked into war