Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 52

In sharp contrast to Moscow (see the Monitor, March 15), official Kyiv draws comfort and a measure of confidence from the fact that its three western neighbors have become full members of NATO. According to a special Foreign Ministry statement, “the Ukrainian government welcomes the sovereign choice of friendly Poland, Hungary and the Czech republic to join the Atlantic Alliance… a testimony to the fact that any state is entitled to choose for itself the means to guarantee its security. We trust that the open process of accession of further countries to NATO will enhance security and stability in Europe and the entire Euro-Atlantic area” (DINAU, March 15).

While the government’s statement bore the personal stamp of Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, an equally assertive message came from Ukraine’s ambassador to NATO, Kostyantin Hryshchenko, at the “NATO-50” anniversary conference last week in London. Describing the “positive effects” for Ukraine from NATO’s enlargement, Hryshchenko cited President Leonid Kuchma’s known position that Ukraine’s admission to NATO “is not on the agenda at the present time,” and that its Charter of Distinctive Partnership with NATO offers Ukraine the opportunity to upgrade its military and enhance its security. Ukraine, moreover, operates a joint military unit with Poland, now a full-fledged member of NATO (UNIAN, March 12, 15; see story below).

Parts of these statements seem to read like an introductory argument in support of Ukraine’s right to exercise the free choice of its security arrangements when the time is ripe. Equally noteworthy is the vision of Ukraine as part of the Euro-Atlantic space, in contrast to Moscow’s perspective on Ukraine as part of an ex-Soviet/CIS space centered on Russia.–VS