Today's "Gazeta po Kiyevski" prints an enlightening interview with Valentina Badrak, the director of the center of army, conversion and disarmament studies. She explains what the Membership Action Plan [MAP], written by Ukrainian President, PM, and VR speaker to the general secretary of NATO, is all about, and its potential threats to Ukraine.
" Signing MAP does not mean that Ukraine will soon definitely become a member of NATO. The process can drag out ten or more years. For example, Albania and Macedonia submitted their plans in 1999 but they still haven't joined NATO because they are not ready.
If NATO, at the summit in Bucharest, approves Ukraine MAP, then this will serve as the signal that they want to see that country in their ranks. The difference from previous years will be the fact that the alliance's leadership will express its position officially, not just at the level of statements from diplomats. Incidentally, the program of co-operation of Ukraine-NATO, conducted in 2007, practically hardly differs from the MAP.
The MAP takes the form of a number of measures.
First of these is an information campaign explaining to the population what NATO is really about. Right now about 90% of Ukrainians know little of this organization. When the Czech republic submitted their MAP, only 10% of its population were in favour of joining. But afterwards it was more than half.
In the second place, MAP will accelerate the rearmament of the obsolete Ukrainian army. It will allow the country's military enterprises to buy foreign technologies and licences. It will allow Ukraine's arms industry to compete better in world markets where it has been slipping back. [In the past it was considered joining NATO would be harmful to Ukraine's miliary armaments complex because it is so closely linked to that of Russia - the proposal here is that this no longer the case..LEvko]
It is necessary at the same time to understand: two centres of the influence are fighting over Ukraine: Europe/USA and Moscow. But this seriously complicates the prospects for the entrance of Ukraine into NATO.
Let us take this example. Bulgaria and Romania quite rapidly became the members of NATO, since they were well supported by Germany and France. However, in the case of Ukraine, knowing the hostile attitude of Russia to Ukraine's possible membership, the large European countries do not want to complicate their relations with Moscow. A not inconsequential factor is their dependence on Russian gas. Therefore the USA's stance is very significant, and at the moment that country is quite favourably inclined to Ukraine."
James Sherr, who seems to have sight of 'the MAP letter' considers it to be "very strange", and Ukraine's "interest" in joining NATO is expressed in a "reserved style". "For Ukraine, it would be understandable not to link all its hopes, and particularly all of its efforts, with success in Bucharest of this initiative." [If anyone knows where Sherr's article can be read in English, please let me know.]
LEvko's view is that the current crisis in Ukraine's parliament over this matter could have been stoked up deliberately by the President's secretariat in order to sow disarray and hasten the formation of a broad coalition. [see previous blog]
There is not much else for the opposition to bash the current government with. Even the 'handbags at ten paces' between Lutsenko and Chernovetsky may not have that much political mileage. Lutsenko is completely out of favour with the president, and Chernovetsky is not flavour-of-the month with PoR either. Ukrainiana has an excellent posting on the escalation of their spat.
[A videotape of the Lutsenko/Chernovetsky 'dust-up' atthe NCDC meeting may be in the hands of the president's security officers, but could be used at a later date, if required, to discredit Lutsenko. He is now just too close to Tymoshenko for pres's liking.]
p.s. Putin's latest successes in spreading the Kremlin's influences over the EU's energy markets, and tightening control over Caspian oil exports are described in detail here [Bad news for Odessa-Brody, I'm afraid]