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Ukraine. Former deputy head of the Pentagon: the end of the war is not a necessary condition for Ukraine to join NATO

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Even if Russia does not give up, we will probably reach a point where the fighting subsides and then it will be possible to make a decision on Ukraine’s membership in NATO, Jim Townsend, former deputy head of the Pentagon responsible for the Alliance’s policy, assessed in an interview with PAP. He also spoke about other security guarantees for Kiev, including the “Israeli model”.

15 years ago during the summit FOR THIS in Bucharest, Ukraine received a promise to become a member of NATO in the future. And although this promise will not be fulfilled at the upcoming meeting in Vilnius, it may come significantly closer, believes Jim Townsend, a long-term official Pentagon and NATO, and currently an expert at the Center for New American Security (CNAS) think-tank.

– I think that Kiev has resigned to the fact that it will not get membership in Vilnius, considering that the war is still going on. But I think there is an expectation that there will be a path towards membership: something like the Membership Action Plan, MAP, but tailored to Ukraine in terms of time and needed reforms, Townsend told PAP. As he admitted, postponing Ukraine’s accession until the end of the war may give Russia encouragement to prolong the conflict, but according to the expert, a formal end to the conflict is not necessary for Ukraine to join NATO.

Volodymyr Zelensky at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid [listopad 2022 roku]PAP/EPA/Chema Moya

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“The best way to counter this would be to simply ensure Russia’s complete defeat.” But even if that doesn’t happen, if Russia doesn’t surrender, we’ll probably get to a point where the fighting subsides, when it’s obvious that the major battles are over, and then it’s possible to make a decision as long as the allies feel comfortable with that. . It’s about not letting Russia dictate the terms,” ​​Townsend says.

Expert on the “Israeli model”

In his opinion, although the Biden administration is cautious about Ukraine’s membership of NATO at the moment, this does not mean that it opposes accession at all. However, until there is a breakthrough, the discussions concern temporary security guarantees for Ukraine. The proposed “Israeli model” would consist primarily of increased access to Western weapons, expansion of Ukraine’s defense industry, and bilateral guarantees.

– You could say that something like this is already working. But the Israeli model works because Israel has a technological advantage over its neighbors. So that would mean that the US and the West could no longer deny some capabilities to Ukraine. It would have to receive Western fighters, missiles such as ATACMS, and receive them in such quantities as to have an advantage over Russia,” he said.

According to Townsend, an important and positive step was the announcement of the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council before the Vilnius summit, raising the profile of existing contacts between the Alliance and Kiev. – For people uninitiated in NATO matters, it may not sound like a big deal, but in practice it may turn out to be important. This gives Ukraine a better position and place at the table – more or less as equals, influence the decisions of the Alliance, have closer daily contacts – said the expert.

At the same time, he stressed that neither the new Council nor the Israeli model are a substitute for Ukraine’s accession to NATO. – There is nothing that can replace the security guarantees provided by Article V and the mutual assistance clause. Only this will give both Putin and the Ukrainians the confidence that we will stay with them for good and that we will not back down later, Townsend concluded.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/Chema Moya

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