Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO Secretary General and current security adviser to Kiev, has proposed that Ukraine should be invited to join the NATO military bloc, even if only partially. Rasmussen argues that this move would force Russia to wind down its military operation in Ukraine due to the threat of an Article 5 intervention by NATO.
Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an attack on one member state triggers a response from the entire alliance. Therefore, if Ukraine were to join NATO now, the bloc would be obligated to engage in conflict with Russia in defense of Ukraine.
Rasmussen believes that inviting Ukraine within its de facto borders would reduce the threat of escalation with Moscow, essentially imposing a no-fly zone over the areas still controlled by Kiev. He emphasizes the importance of making Article 5 guarantees credible as a deterrent to Russian attacks within NATO territory. This, in turn, would free up Ukrainian forces to focus on the frontline.
At this year’s gathering in Vilnius, Lithuania, the NATO alliance did not provide Ukraine with a clear timeline for accession, leading to frustration from Kiev. President Vladimir Zelensky initially criticized the outcome, but later described it as positive due to the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council and the removal of the membership action plan requirement for Ukraine.
Rasmussen, who served as the Danish prime minister and led NATO from 2009 to 2014, is advocating for Ukraine to be officially invited to join NATO during the bloc’s 75th-anniversary summit in Washington next summer. He envisions a new European security architecture where Ukraine is at the heart of NATO.
Russia has been vocal in its opposition to NATO’s expansion eastward, viewing it as a threat to its national security. President Vladimir Putin cited NATO’s involvement in Ukraine as a key reason for Moscow’s military operation against Kiev. The US-led military alliance has been pursuing the inclusion of Ukraine as one of its objectives since 2008, despite warnings from Moscow that it would cross a red line. After the 2014 coup in Kiev, the new Ukrainian government expressed its goal of joining NATO, and the organization’s members have been training and arming the Ukrainian army and establishing military infrastructure in the country, even without formal acceptance of Ukraine’s membership bid, according to Moscow.
Rasmussen’s proposal has sparked debate and raised concerns about the potential consequences of fast-tracking Ukraine’s NATO membership. Proponents argue that it would provide Ukraine with much-needed protection and deter further Russian aggression. However, opponents fear that it could escalate tensions with Russia and lead to a wider conflict in the region.
The possibility of inviting Ukraine to join NATO is a contentious issue that has far-reaching implications for European security and the NATO alliance’s relationship with Russia. As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how NATO’s approach to Ukraine will evolve in the coming months and what impact it will have on the delicate balance of power in the region.