New attempts have been taken recently to drag Ukraine into NATO. Vyacheslav Kirilenko, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada (the Parliament of Ukraine) with the faction "Our Ukraine - People's Self-Defense" (OU-PSD), an ally of Viktor Yushchenko, introduced a bill abolishing the non-aligned status of the country for the sake of accession to NATO.
According to Kirilenko's proposal, a paragraph on non-alignment of Ukraine to military units should be deleted from the Law "On the basis of domestic and foreign policy". In his explanatory memorandum he explicitly stated that his goal was the "strengthening of the course of Ukraine to acquire full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on the legislative level." Kirilenko added that the lack of NATO's protection "only encourages unfriendly actions and statements by some neighboring countries." By the latter he obviously meant Russia.
Looking at the personality of the author of the bill, it is easy to understand his desire to quickly drag Ukraine into NATO. Vyacheslav Kirilenko from a young age has been participating in the activities of the national-democratic, western-oriented organizations such as the "People's Movement", the Ukrainian People's Party, and the party of Viktor Yushchenko "Our Ukraine". At one time he led the OU-PSD faction in the Verkhovna Rada. A few years ago Kirilenko was one of the organizers of the rally designed to clarify the need for membership in NATO to the Ukrainians.
In August-September of 2008, Kirilenko vehemently defended Georgia that started the war in South Ossetia, and even sported the Georgian flag in the meeting room. "We saw the external forces trying to destroy the unity of the Georgian people, and when they failed they have resorted to direct military intervention. We know that such scenarios are prepared for Ukraine, provoking a confrontation between politicians and trying to make us susceptible to external threats," said Kirilenko then, campaigning for NATO.
Today, the deputy heads the movement "For Ukraine," collaborating with the party of the former Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Arseniy Yatseniuk "Front of Changes". Yet, his pro-NATO and anti-Russian attitude has not changed. "There is an immediate need to resume effective talks with NATO. We have to realize that the dictatorship installed in the north will make independent Ukraine its next target, regardless of the name of the president," he said in December. The "dictatorship of the north" clearly means Russia.
Calls on Ukraine's accession to NATO began in the mid-1990s, when Leonid Kuchma was in power. In 2002, he approved the decision taken by the Council of National Security and Defense on the gradual entry of Ukraine into Euro-Atlantic structures - not excluding NATO. However, Kuchma had multi-vector policy and turning away from Russia was not in his plans. In 2004 NATO ceased to be a strategic goal of Ukraine.
Accession to NATO became priority for Ukraine under Viktor Yushchenko. Previous Ukrainian president accompanied his praise of the North Atlantic Alliance with unfriendly gestures toward Russia and Russian-speaking population. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was focused on the accession to NATO to a lesser extent, though she had a fair share of Atlanticists in her entourage. The former Speaker of Parliament Arseniy Yatseniuk was also friendly towards NATO. He is now considered "opposition number two" after Tymoshenko.
In 2008, Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Yatseniuk signed a special letter of appeal to NATO asking for a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine in the alliance. Then, at the NATO meeting in Bucharest, the possibility of accepting Ukraine into the ranks of NATO was discussed. However, Germany, France, Italy and other countries preferred not to hurry with this decision. Ukraine has not received a NATO Membership Action Plan. However, the Europeans (after the U.S.) have made it clear that sooner or later Ukraine could be accepted into NATO.
The main obstacle to NATO has been and remains the position of ordinary Ukrainians. Opinion polls have repeatedly shown that at least two-thirds of the country's citizens do not want membership in NATO. Among the reasons they name the unwillingness to ruin relations with Russia, the need to send the military to numerous "hot spots", and the emergence of foreign military bases on Ukrainian territory. Despite all the propaganda the "orange" failed to reverse the situation.
After the arrival of Viktor Yanukovych to power two years ago the accession to NATO has ceased to be the goal of foreign policy. At the same time, cooperation with the alliance was not minimized, and "orange" politicians like Kirilenko who have transferred to the opposition continued to stick to their line. This resulted in the bill endangering the neutral status of Ukraine.
What are the chances of its adoption and subsequent entry of Ukraine into NATO? Political scientist and director of the Ukrainian branch of the Institute of CIS and Baltic countries Vladimir Kornilov shared his thoughts in an interview with "Pravda.Ru":
"Today the question of Ukraine's accession to NATO is not on the agenda. The ruling Party of Regions on the eve of the upcoming parliamentary elections will not even risk discussing it, let alone putting it up for a vote. Only marginals like Kirilenko can afford statements about NATO membership. The current regime in Ukraine is not eternal. In the case of the arrival of new people to power the issue of integration into NATO may again be put on the agenda.
The society is rather homogeneous in terms of rejecting Ukraine's membership in NATO, both in the Crimea, in the east, and the center. Even in the west (in Lviv) the Atlanticists do not have a stable majority. Over 70 percent of Ukrainians oppose the adoption of the North Atlantic bloc, even during the reign of the "orange". No political force claiming the all-Ukrainian coverage (even the opposition) will talk about it. Only those who are betting on the anti-Russian and nationalist electorate of the western regions can afford to do this.
At the same time we should not get too comfortable. In the days of "orange" not only pro-NATO, but also anti-NATO propaganda was strong. In recent years the acuteness of the issue has somewhat subsided, but the NATO propaganda will not go away. Information centers, promoting the idea of Ukraine's accession to the alliance, exist in all regional centers of Ukraine. The same is done on television, at numerous "round tables". At the same time, counter-propaganda, compared to the "orange" has declined over the years.
The Party of Regions, the Communist Party and other organizations should make their own contribution to the anti-NATO propaganda. Russia should not rest on its laurels either. The accession of Ukraine to NATO is not an internal affair of Ukraine, but a direct threat to the Russian interests. Russia, in turn, should also hold "roundtables" and create organizations in all regional centers of Ukraine. This is the only way to neutralize the one-sided NATO propaganda. "