NATO is ready to negotiate with Russia on not granting Ukraine and Georgia admission to the Western-led bloc, but will not agree to bind this agreement legally, says Ruslan Bortnik, who heads the Ukrainian Institute of Politics, commenting on the Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels.
“NATO is ready to negotiate with Russia informally on not admitting Ukraine and Georgia into its ranks, but NATO is not ready to formally, and legally cement these agreements, because it will be viewed as yet another retreat from Afghanistan, as a betrayal of non-NATO allies, who did a lot of things that the alliance requested and invested a great deal of effort, not to mention that [they] were used in the global standoff between the West and Russia,” he noted.
According to the expert, this would evoke disappointment not only in Ukraine but among other potential NATO allies as well.
“It would spell a security crisis for the Baltics and Eastern Europe and may trigger a serious rift within NATO,” he believes.
Meanwhile, he underscored that Russia would not be satisfied by informal agreements, because it already has grounds not to trust them.
“Back in the day, [USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev] was promised verbally that NATO would not expand eastwards, without legally binding these assurances. And today, NATO and the West do not acknowledge these promises. Therefore, it is obvious why today Russia demands written legal guarantees,” the researcher says.
According to Bortnik, these negotiations are only formal at this point, and the sides use them to declare and detail their positions instead of compromise. Therefore, the analyst believes, the sides “simply postpone the military-political crisis to a later period.”
“The main event will begin once this round is over – maybe, after Moscow puts new cards on the table that would convince NATO and the US to strike a compromise on national security with Russia after all,” Bortnik predicts.