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What Ukraine Brings to NATO

Some doubt the wisdom of granting Ukraine NATO membership, warning that it will give the alliance nothing but headaches. In fact, Ukraine brings much to the table, from a battle-tested military to the ability to act as the model of a functioning democracy that post-war Russia will need.

KYIV – This week, almost every Ukrainian will be looking longingly toward Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. It is there, at the summit of NATO’s leaders, that our place in Europe and the West will begin to be decided.

Although virtually all Ukrainians dream of NATO membership, the brutal fighting in which we have been forced to engage since Russia invaded our country nearly 18 months ago has taught us hard lessons in realism. So, we are well aware that making our NATO dream a reality will be no easy feat. I am certainly aware: in 2008, I co-signed Ukraine’s application letter to NATO’s secretary-general. Yet Ukraine remained outside the alliance – with devastating consequences.

No one expects Ukraine to be offered NATO membership while war rages on our territory. This would, after all, compel the alliance, under Article 5 of its founding treaty, to intervene in the conflict. The idea of a full-scale war between NATO and Russia – a nuclear-armed country that has already demonstrated a criminal degree of recklessness – appeals to no one, Ukrainians included.