MOSCOW, Russia -- The majority of NATO proponents in Ukraine believe that the admission process may only be accelerated in 2011, when Poland - a principal (after the U.S.) driving force behind this process - assumes the EU rotating presidency.
Yet it is quite possible that Ukraine might join the alliance as early as 2008.
The "pro" party is led by President Viktor Yushchenko, the Defense Minister, and the Foreign Minister. Their goal is to cut Ukraine off from Russia forever and to ensure Kiev's early integration into Western structures.
The United States is seeking to use Ukraine as a counterweight to Russia's influence, bringing its military and political infrastructure closer to Russian borders.
U.S. allies in the EU, such as Poland and Latvia, are driven by their Russophobia complex. Furthermore, Poland without Ukraine is just an average European country, wedged in between its historic enemies - Russia and Germany. Poland with Ukraine is a great European power.
The NATO bureaucracy's motive is its subconscious institutional expansion, the desire to enlarge budgets, territories, military structures, and public outreach.
The "con" party is led by Ukraine's public opinion, driven by the reluctance to see the country become an enemy of Russia, as well as by the general distrust of NATO.
Needless to say, this is a result of years of propaganda.
The Russian authorities are nervous about the physical proximity of NATO and U.S. military-political infrastructure, continuing to pin their hopes on the restoration of a close relationship with Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Constitution says that the republic is a neutral state, not affiliated with any blocs, and therefore, NATO membership is at odds with the country's Fundamental Law.
NATO and EU member countries - representatives of the so-called Old Europe, who have their own position which does not fully coincide with that of the U.S. - do not wish to fall out with Russia over Ukraine, while they have no special interest in Kiev's membership of the alliance.
Pros vs. Cons
The "pro party" is rather stable, based on common interests. Within the "con party," only Russia - its governing authorities and public opinion - has a distinct, pronounced interest, while other "party members" do not.
Kiev's admission to NATO could be precipitated by elections in the U.S. and in Ukraine, as well as developments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Washington afford to continue these wars: American public opinion is increasingly pushing for the military pullout. The 2008 election campaign is getting into gear.
Unless the Republicans do something before then, they will lose dismally to such Democratic radicals as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The U.S. will come up with a new policy. It will gather its allies, and ask them what to do next.
Washington will admit that it was wrong to have started the war in Iraq, but that the West cannot pull out of Iraq or Afghanistan.
However, we are unable anymore to continue the war on our own, the U.S. president will say, so it is time to invoke Article 5 of the UN Charter.
So [other] NATO countries will have to enter the war. The leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands will realize that if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq or Afghanistan, they will have to fight there all the same.
He who decides to send his soldiers to this unpopular war will commit political suicide.
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands are exactly the Old Europe that does not want to set on a collision course with Russia over Ukraine if they can help it.
But in the new conditions, the leaders of these countries will understand that Ukraine as a NATO member is their salvation - an opportunity to minimize their manpower contribution and save their political careers.
After all, Ukraine has a population of 48 million plus leftovers from the Soviet Army.
Other NATO member states will contribute what they can to this war effort - money (Japan and the U.S.) and military hardware (the U.S., Germany, France, and Italy).
The obstacle in the form of Ukrainian public opinion will be easily cleared.
A massive propaganda campaign will be launched, bankrolled by NATO.
The issue of NATO membership will, as Yushchenko promised, go before a referendum.
The question, however, will not be "Do you want Ukraine to become a member of the North Atlantic alliance and to send its soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan?"
It will be different: "Do you agree with military reform in Ukraine, which includes NATO membership and transition from conscription to a contract-based, professional army?"
The majority will vote for abolishing the draft. The conscripts' mothers will overwhelm the opponents.
No one will remember about the Ukrainian Constitution - they will only remember about the National Security Law, which now includes (at variance with the Fundamental Law) a provision about Euro Atlantic integration as a national security goal.
Later, they will say that the transition to a professional military will take time, but no one knows exactly how much - maybe 20 years or so.
But NATO membership could be granted already in the fall of 2008.
Of course, Ukrainian politicians will think that they will be able to get out of sending their soldiers to the war: they are constantly devising schemes designed to deceive everyone, and will, as always, end up deceiving everyone, including themselves.
Needless to say, the Russian authorities understand the danger of this scenario.
But today, Russia does not have any leverage over Ukraine's domestic policy.
There are no programs, funds, grants, media, institutions, and so on.
There are no systemic channels of communication with Ukrainian journalists, experts, NGOs or students.
In any event, Ukraine is not a priority: there are more pressing things to do, such as divvying up ministerial posts, state corporations, and billions of dollars.
Furthermore, presidential elections are just around the corner.
Some people think that if the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian politicians have interests in Russia, as well as personal connections within the Russian establishment, the Kremlin, has leverage to influence Ukrainian politics.
It is rather dubious, however, that these personal connections or economic leverage can prevent Ukraine's admission to NATO.
Some people are betting on Ukraine's infrastructural, and above all energy dependence, but the possibilities of using this influence are even now limited by political considerations.
Should the leading Western powers really commit themselves to their scenario, the possibility of using Ukraine's energy dependence to exert pressure on it will be minimal.
In the end, Russia will just stare in amazement at the Ukrainian Armed Forces pass under American control and Ukrainian politicians swear allegiance to NATO.
And then questions will start to be asked: "Who lost Ukraine?" "Who allowed the enemy to come to our doorstep?" and finally, "Who betrayed the Motherland?"
Amid Russia's de facto encirclement by NATO, there will be a surge in anti-Western mood.
The majority of Russian politicians, including the most reasonable and responsible, will be unable to resist such pressure, which will result in a sharp turn toward nationalism.
But the West will firmly uphold its interests, responding harshly and cold-bloodedly to Russia's half-hearted, toothless threats.
Thus a ‘small' Cold War will be revived. Ukraine's admission to NATO is a red line that will create a fundamentally new geopolitical situation for Russia.
Source: Moscow News