Tags: andrii yermak.volodymyr zelenskyy | ukraine | nato

Yermak: Time for Ukraine to Join NATO

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Andrii Yermak
Chief of Staff Andrii Yermak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 

By    |   Monday, 13 February 2023 11:41 AM EST

In April 2008, then-U.S. president George W. Bush tried to persuade Europe that Ukraine should be granted NATO membership. At a candid late-night dinner in Bucharest, Romania, Bush told European leaders that he feared the Ukrainian people would "lose faith" in the West if they were not admitted to the security alliance.

The impassioned plea led to the meal running two hours over schedule. An hour and a half after it was supposed to end, first lady Laura Bush left with the other spouses.

Yet Bush's efforts were in vain. As ever, too many other Western leaders around the table worried about "provoking" Russia, prioritizing appeasement above more noble concepts such as self-determination and international security.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently posed the question: Where have such policies led us? Answer: to the most serious conflict in Europe since the Second World War, to mass murder, systematic rape, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and enduring damage to the global economy.

When will my Western friends learn the lessons of history?

NATO was created in 1949 against the backdrop of the Soviet Union's nuclear testing program at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. Spanning four decades and exposing an estimated 1.5 million people to nuclear radiation, the Soviet Union's grandstanding fueled an arms race that continues to rage today.

The shape of the power struggle has shifted, but the issues at its heart remain unchanged.

Following its illegal invasion of Ukraine last year, Russia blocked the adoption of a United Nations Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Russia objected to a draft text, citing "grave concern" over its disgraceful recent activities around Ukraine's nuclear power plants.

Some European capitals need to recognize that the insanity of the Russian armed forces has the potential to threaten the very existence of several countries on their own continent. There is no point negotiating with such evil.

Over the past 20 years, the Kremlin has attempted to create the specter of Russia as a great power, rising once more from the ruins of the Soviet Union. Thankfully, the bravery of the Ukrainian forces has exposed this nonsense as a modern-day Potemkin village.

When Russia invaded, a battle for Ukraine's soul raged in and around Kyiv between February and April. Vladimir Putin's forces expected to gain control of our capital city within days — an outcome many of our allies also feared. They were not prepared for the ferocity of our resistance and the fortitude of our people.

Russia's retreat from Kyiv marked the beginning of its crumbling offensive. While the smoke and mirrors of the Kremlin's military might dissipated and cracked, Ukrainian forces took back ravaged communities in Kharkiv.

In October, the destruction of the Crimean Bridge obliterated much more than a vital supply line to Kremlin troops. It exposed the fault lines and folly of Putin's rash aggression toward Ukraine and dealt a fatal blow to decades of Russian posturing.

And at the end of the year, the recapture of the stolen city of Kherson was heralded by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as "the beginning of the end of the war." These were moments of glory and pride for those who have given so much for our country and who have suffered unimaginable horrors at the hands of Russian war criminals.

Ukraine has proven itself on the battlefield — an issue that was often held against us as a reason for keeping us out of NATO.

Another factor often cited is our need for internal political and military reforms and guarantees of civil liberties. Former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves once likened the process of joining NATO to "a big stick rather than a big carrot" as it "forces nations to reform even when they don't want to."

Yet President Zelenskyy already has shown a willingness to confront difficult home truths. Recent weeks have shown his administration is prepared to target those who have scandalously used Putin's illegal war as an opportunity to feather their own nest, even as their compatriots die defending their homeland. Some of those arrested may have previously regarded themselves as "untouchable." The president has told Ukrainians that "there will be no return to the way things used to be."

The Kremlin's misjudgment in attacking Ukraine has betrayed its weaknesses. It has damaged its own standing in the eyes of global allies and undone its reputation as the world's second-strongest military power. Conversely, Ukraine's defiance and fightback — aided by our allies — has bolstered the resolve and strength of NATO. Our country is defeating Russia in the battle for the global mind, destroying a narrative that has endured since the Second World War.

President Zelenskyy's 10-point peace plan announced last month will, with the backing of our friends, help not only to restore sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders, but thwart future attempts at such aggression.

It includes the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine; the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity; the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes; Western security guarantees for Ukraine; guarantees of food security, including support for Ukraine's grain exports to the world's poorest nations; and guarantees on radiation and nuclear safety around Zaporizhzhia, which remains a battleground.

Ukraine's fightback against the odds and determination to drive out corruption has turned global politics on its head. Our country has not only earned its place among NATO allies, it has dismantled the myths that prevented us taking our seat at the table in the first place.

Andrii Yermak is the chief of staff to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

In April 2008, then-U.S. president George W . Bush tried to persuade Europe that Ukraine should be granted NATO membership.
andrii yermak.volodymyr zelenskyy, ukraine, nato
Monday, 13 February 2023 11:41 AM
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