If Western partners had been more consistent and courageous on the issue of Ukraine’s NATO membership, a full-scale Russian invasion could have been avoided. This is what former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote in his column in the Washington Post
“For decades we used diplomatic ambiguity about NATO and Ukraine – and it ended in utter disaster.
The result was the worst war in Europe in 80 years”
In Johnson’s view, along with the “open door” message to Ukraine, NATO was simultaneously sending a message to Russia that Ukraine would never be a member of the Alliance.
The former prime minister noted that while earlier, before 2014, there really was no consensus in Ukrainian society about joining NATO, now the support for this decision is “off the charts”; according to the latest polls, over 83% of Ukrainians are in favor of membership in the Alliance.
Also, NATO used to say that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were incompatible with the Alliance troops, Johnson writes. Now the Ukrainians are easily mastering Western weaponry in no time at all, he notes.
“There is absolutely nothing that NATO can teach the Ukrainians about warfare – in fact, they could teach us a lot”
He is convinced that the argument that Ukraine joining NATO would be a “provocation” for dictator Vladimir Putin should never have been accepted. Johnson recalled that at the Bucharest summit in 2008, Ukraine did not receive a MAP (Membership Action Plan) but only “a few warm words about the possibility of membership”, Putin was pleased with this. “What did he do next? In 2014 he invaded Donbas and Crimea with his trademark combination of outright lies and brutality. Instead of punishing him properly, we responded with a policy of cowardly appeasement,” Johnson writes.
He stresses that NATO “has done nothing to protect Ukraine and promote its membership”. Putin invaded Ukraine “because he believed – with ample evidence – that we were not very serious about defending Ukraine”.
“If we had been brave and consistent enough to bring Ukraine into NATO – if we had really meant what we said – this complete disaster would have been avoided”
According to Johnson, “the Ukrainians need to be given everything they need to end this war as quickly as possible, and we need to start the process of admitting Ukraine to NATO and start it now.