Friday, April 22, 2016

Can Russia stomach Ukraine and Georgia becoming NATO ‘associates’?

Vladimir Mikheev, Russia Beyond the Headlines

Image from article, with caption: The upcoming NATO summit will be held in Warsaw on 8-9 July, 2016. Source: Reuters

The upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw (8-9 July 2016) will be hallmarked by Ukraine and Georgia’s elevation to a still-elusive status of “associate partners.” While the move could be interpreted as one step closer to full membership, Moscow military experts view it as lip service to keep the two countries, going through a turbulent transitional period, in the Western alliance’s orbit.

Symbolic gestures have always been part and parcel of public diplomacy. The hosts of the high-level meeting of NATO top officials in Warsaw scheduled for July 8-9 have allocated for a special function a room in the Presidential Palace where the Warsaw Pact was signed in 1955, six years after the emergence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
This time NATO, having outlived the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact, intends to upgrade the standing of the two post-Soviet republics that currently pursue an unfriendly policy towards Russia. Both will enjoy the privilege of being termed “associate partners.” ...
For Georgia and Ukraine the prospect of becoming NATO “associates” falls short of an earlier promised “roadmap” to a bona fide membership card. ...

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