Charting the Course
China reviews the year gone by and sets new goals accordingly
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Top Story
Top Story
UPDATED: January 29, 2015 NO. 5 JANUARY 29, 2015
Moving Toward the West
Ukraine's parliament has repealed its neutrality bill in a move to join NATO
By Ye Tianle

Nevertheless, dropping its nonaligned status could be merely a political gesture. For one thing, it is uncertain whether the Ukrainian public would support the move to join NATO in the proposed referendum. For another, whether NATO is willing to accept Ukraine remains unknown.

Poroshenko has expressed plans to join NATO within six years, but heavy obstacles stand in the way. Civil war still rages in the country. Neither government troops nor rebels comply with the truce that they reached in Minsk. Divisions between the two sides persist, including the territorial status of eastern areas, the release of captives and presence of heavy weapons. The second round of Minsk talks has been repeatedly delayed. The de facto independence of eastern areas will continue in the short run.

Ukraine's move to seek NATO membership will not solve the crisis. On the contrary, it would further prompt the independence movement of eastern Ukraine.

Cold War 2.0?

For Moscow, the thought of Ukraine joining NATO is very dangerous. Russia has long attached great importance to maintaining a strategic buffer against the West. If NATO were to expand east to the Russian border at Dnieper River, that strategic buffer would dissolve--putting the enemy at the gate. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned Ukrainian leaders that if Ukraine drops the nonaligned status, it will become a direct military rival of Russia.

At present, Russia faces severe economic hardship under the double blow of sanctions imposed by the United States and the EU and the fall of oil prices. In a bid to prevent its economy from collapsing and to maintain domestic stability, the Kremlin has given reconciliation signals to the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a state of the union address on December 4, 2014, in which he expressed hopes that Russia and the West could become equal partners.

But Ukraine's move toward NATO inevitably angers the Kremlin, and may lead Russia to abandon efforts to warm up frosty relations with the West.

As for the West, Ukraine's move toward NATO does not guarantee peace. Fundamental security issues in Europe remain unresolved since the end of the Cold War. NATO's expansion to the east would enlarge the defensive sphere of the military bloc, thereby intensifying the threat of conflict on the whole European continent. To make such a move amid the Ukrainian crisis--the biggest threat to peace in the region since WWII--would present dire risks. Taking Ukraine as a NATO member at this sensitive time could trigger a more serious crisis by upsetting relations with Russia. At this point, neither the EU nor NATO would like to bear such a risk.

Meanwhile, the EU has its own diplomatic and economic challenges that prevent it from speaking with one voice on diplomatic affairs. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker just assumed office last November, and must act quickly to narrow differences among member states. Germany's leading position is weakened while France and Italy are busy restoring their domestic economies. Britain makes frequent threats to withdraw from the EU.

With respect to the economy, the eurozone faces mounting risks of deflation. It is still unknown whether the quantitative easing policy of the European Central Bank will achieve success.

Furthermore, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris remind the EU to be alert against the menace of terrorism. Faced with domestic social problems and other security challenges, the EU may lack the strength to manage the geopolitical fallout if Ukraine were to join the West.

The Ukraine crisis has lasted for over a year and entered a stalemate. Dropping its nonaligned status will not solve the nation's security problems overnight, nor will it trigger a serious regional military conflict. Unlike during the Cold War, countries today have more options to protect national security. The decision of whether to adopt nonalignment or to take sides should above all support national unity and promote domestic development.

The author is a research fellow of the Institute of Russia Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

   Previous   1   2  

Top Story
-Empowerment Through Infrastructure
-Special Reports: APEC China 2014
-Protection at Home
-A Weaker Union
-Will the 'China Miracle' Continue?
Related Stories
-A Gray Year for Peace and Growth
-Russia's Twin Troubles
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved