Ukraine Against Herself: To Be Euro-Atlantic, Eurasian, or Neutral? (Strategic Forum, Number 238, February 2009)
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Since independence, Ukrainians have been evenly split between those who desire to be part of the Euro-Atlantic European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization community and those who gravitate toward Eurasia Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. During the 1990s, when the European Union and NATO were focused on Central Europe and Russia was politically down and economically weak, Ukraine was able to have it both ways. Since the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has made significant progress developing a Euro-Atlantic style democratic political system, demonstrated a vibrant open media and civil society, and successfully advanced civilian oversight of its military. Despite this progress, Ukrainian opinion remains sharply divided on integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Attempts by Ukrainian leaders and some current members of NATO to promote a Membership Action Plan have backfired. Not only has Russia, now more autocratic, responded with missile threats, cutting gas supplies, and meddling in Ukraines domestic politics, but the crosscutting internal and external pressures are aggravating profound political instability, actually making Ukraine a less appealing candidate for membership in either the European Union or NATO. Under these circumstances, the challenge is to provide Ukraine sufficient time to consolidate successful democratic governance and develop domestic consensus on this critical strategic choice. Rather than pressing Ukraine toward early accession, the new U.S. administration should keep open the possibility of NATO membership, but for the time being encourage Ukraine to follow the model of Finland, another nonaligned Partner for Peace, as it attempts to reconcile the competing popular factions in the country and to navigate between its Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian neighbors. By nurturing its political stability, the United States will enhance Ukraines value to the Alliance over the longer term.
- Government and Political Science