Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 106

The Ukrainian parliament’s defense and security committee chairman Volodymyr Mukhin cautions that Ukraine risks losing its sovereignty if it abandons its neutral status, and that Europe risks a new division if Russian security interests are ignored. Even if "sandwiched between two blocs," Ukraine will maintain neutrality and "an understanding attitude toward NATO’s eastward enlargement, stemming from Ukraine’s right to build relations with the Alliance independently." If neighboring Belarus and other CIS countries join with Russia in a military bloc, "Ukraine will not agree to participate in such an alliance." (9)

The official’s comments reflect an increasingly relaxed attitude toward NATO’s enlargement. Kiev tended until recently to discourage the enlargement out of concern that it may place Ukraine in a buffer zone and under Russian pressure. Recently, however, Ukrainian officials’ words and deeds show a realization that the answer to that problem lies in developing Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO, rather than in trying to slow down its enlargement; and that Ukraine’s neutrality is compatible with active participation in joint military programs under Partnership for Peace. Prime Minister Evhen Marchuk for example said as much on his visit to Washington last week.

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