What The Ukrainian Parliament's Vote To Join NATO Means
9 June, 2017

The Ukrainian Parliament has decided to support the country embarking on a course towards joining NATO. 276 deputies voted in favour of a draft law on amendements to some legislative acts regarding Ukraine's foreign policy on June 8, 2017.

Hromadske spoke to Oleksandr Sushko, Research Director at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, to find out what this step towards NATO membership means for Ukraine.

Photo credit: Oleksandr Sushko, Research Director at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation / HROMADSKE

The draft law's accompanying explanatory memorandum states that the legislative intitative aims to make the necessary changes to Ukraine's laws "on the principles of domestic and foreign policy" and "on the national security of Ukraine" to reorient the country towards NATO membership as a strategic foreign policy priority.

According to Sushko, the draft law provides clarity for the legal framework of Ukraine's NATO integration. "This is clarity which was not available before," he told Hromadske. "In the Ukrainian legislation there was quite an ambiguous formula which was not considered by many, including our international partners as a sufficient formula for proving that Ukraine would seriously become a NATO member state in the future."

Sushko also underscored that even with this legislation, Ukraine's path to NATO membership will take time. "This does not mean Ukraine will become a NATO member soon, but this is a clarity that is really important for the country to make policies," he explained.

The new legislation is, in Sushko's words, "not a revolutionary step." Rather, it is a formula that existed in Ukrainian legislation from 2003 until Viktor Yanukovych became President in 2010. Former President Yanukovych introduced a non-aligned policy for Ukraine, Sushko explained, which was abandoned after the Euromaidan Revolution in 2014.

"Now steps have been taken to restore fully the legal formula which clarifies the ultimate purpose of Ukraine in its relations with the North-Atlantic Alliance, which is membership," Sushko said.

According to Sushko, Ukraine needs to rejoin the existing group of countries that are on their way to NATO membership, such as Macedonia and Georgia. "The next step should be a membership action plan," he told Hromadske.

"What is even more important is to demonstrate clear outputs of the transformation of the security sector reforms on its path to compliance with NATO standards," Sushko explained. "This will make our appeal for membership really viable in the future."

/Interview by Galya Rudik

/Text by Eilish Hart