By Elijah J. Magnier – In the run-up to next Tuesday’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, and the subsequent meeting of defence ministers in Brussels, Belgium, a few days later, Ukraine’s possible accession to the Western military alliance is taking centre stage. The outcome of these discussions has significant implications for the ongoing conflict between the United States and Russia on Ukrainian soil, potentially determining its duration or indefinite continuation. However, the prospect of Ukraine’s immediate admission to NATO remains distant.
Naturally, NATO members have reservations about Ukraine’s membership because it would put them in confrontation with the Russian army – a scenario outlined in the fifth clause of NATO’s constitution. This clause mandates mutual solidarity among alliance members in the event of an attack or direct military threat. Although this principle was not invoked during the almost inevitable Russian-Turkish clash in Syria in 2015, when Ankara shot down a Russian plane and deemed intervention unnecessary, the current circumstances are far more dangerous.
In a confrontation with the combined forces of NATO, should Ukraine become a member, Russia would not use conventional warfare as it cannot compete with the combined strength of all member states. Instead, nuclear weapons would come to the fore. The United States wants to avoid this outcome because its strategy is to exhaust Russia militarily and economically through a protracted war, with the Ukrainian army and infrastructure bearing the brunt of the costs.
Moreover, a weakened Ukrainian military and devastated economy would add little value to an alliance that already shares over a thousand kilometres of direct border with Russia, mainly from Finland’s perspective. As a result, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s appeal to NATO for a pre-emptive nuclear strike will have little resonance with the United States, which leads NATO and will direct the war according to its objectives while avoiding derailing Moscow’s response.
Subscribe to get access
Read more of this content when you subscribe today.