British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has called for considering simplified accession of Ukraine to NATO. According to him, the country should be included in the alliance without going through the so-called Membership Action Plan (MAP) programme.
“I believe we should certainly consider skipping the Membership Action Plan”, Wallace said (quoted by Reuters). “But of course we need to be realistic about the fact that there are 31 countries in NATO, and we need to act together”, he added.
The MAP program has been in place since 1999. It involves specific criteria and reforms that a country must meet to join NATO. Its implementation may take years or even decades. Bosnia and Herzegovina now participates in the program, and Georgia also intends to join.
Ukraine did not join this program, although in 2008 Brussels sent a letter to the leadership of the country about inclusion in the MAP. But in 2010, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych liquidated an interdepartmental commission to prepare the country for joining NATO.
The initiative to simplify Ukraine’s accession to the alliance had been previously proposed by the Secretary General of the bloc, Jens Stoltenberg. Later, the idea was supported by the USA, The Washington Post reported, quoting a senior White House official. According to the newspaper, President Joe Biden’s administration agreed that after the end of the war with Russia, Ukraine would be able to join NATO without fulfilling the Membership Action Plan. The White House source said that if other members of the bloc approve the idea, it would put an end to the debate on what NATO would offer Kyiv in response to its demands for accelerated accession to the alliance.
Biden’s position on a simplified procedure for Ukraine was confirmed by two Axios sources familiar with the discussions. Earlier the American president, as well as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, did not want to go beyond the commitments made at the NATO summit in 2008, where it was decided that Ukraine would join the alliance “someday”. However, thanks to the efforts of several members of the bloc in Eastern Europe, Biden agreed to demonstrate that there would be no standard barriers to accession for Kyiv.
Ukraine should join NATO without MAP, because this mechanism “has outlived its usefulness”, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in early June. In his opinion, it is impossible to defend the Euro-Atlantic space without the Ukrainian state. The last country to join NATO, Finland, also did not have its MAP.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly stressed that only membership in NATO would guarantee the country’s security, while admitting that accession would be possible only after the war with Russia is over.