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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Ukrainians express deep frustration following NATO Summit

The aftermath of the NATO summit on July 11 left Ukrainians feeling frustrated and disappointed. Although the gathering in Vilnius yielded some concrete gains for Ukraine, such as the confirmation of new weapons deliveries and the establishment of a coalition to train Ukrainian pilots for F-16 fighter aircraft, the summit declaration failed to provide a clear timetable for Ukraine’s NATO membership. Instead, the statement referred to the need for “additional democratic and security sector reforms” before extending an invitation to join the alliance.

This vague language represents a modest step forward but falls far short of Ukrainian expectations. Prior to the summit, Ukraine and its international allies had been urging NATO to send a clear signal regarding Ukraine’s future membership. However, there is no consensus within the 31-nation alliance on this matter, despite several countries publicly supporting Ukraine’s bid. US President Joe Biden stated before the meeting that Ukraine was not ready for membership and that initiating the accession process during an ongoing war would be premature.

Supporters of Ukraine’s NATO aspirations view membership as the only way to end Russian aggression and achieve lasting peace in Eastern Europe. They argue that anything less than membership will only result in a temporary pause before another Russian invasion, as Moscow continues its goal of extinguishing Ukrainian statehood and bringing the country back under its influence. Skeptics, on the other hand, point out that the promise of fast-track NATO membership after the war would likely convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to prolong hostilities indefinitely. This lack of consensus led to an underwhelming outcome at the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy personally traveled to Lithuania on July 11, 2023, but his last-minute intervention failed to sway the skeptics and secure the unequivocal membership commitment that Ukraine has long sought. In response to the summit declaration, Zelenskyy wrote a carefully worded but emotionally charged post, expressing his hope for confidence in NATO’s decisions. He asked, “Is that too much to expect?” In an earlier social media commentary, he criticized NATO’s failure to provide a specific timeline for membership as “unprecedented and absurd”.

Others expressed even greater frustration. Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves posted, “No amount of spin will turn this into a ‘great’ or ‘historic’ summit. Best not even to start”.

Some politicians in the Baltic region shared this sentiment. Lithuanian MP Zygimantas Pavilionis tweeted, “This is not leadership. This is appeasement that normally leads to final defeat”.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian Ambassador for Strategic Communications Olexander Scherba questioned the logic behind NATO members’ apparent fear of provoking Putin. He stated, “The strategy of ‘not provoking Russia’ is, in reality, a strategy of provoking Russia. That’s how it goes with bullies. Will the West ever see it?”

Meanwhile, many Ukrainians expressed anger at the perceived lack of urgency from their international partners. Veteran Ukrainian anti-corruption activist Daria Kaleniuk captured the frustration by stating, “Delays cost lives! Ukraine needs ‘strategic patience.’ Should I patiently wait until a Russian missile strikes my apartment in Kyiv with my kids inside?”

Despite this disappointment, Ukrainians displayed their resilient wartime spirit, with Alyona Getmanchuk, director of the Kyiv-based New Europe Center think tank, posting, “Disappointment but not discouragement. Next stop, Washington DC”, referring to the upcoming NATO summit scheduled for next year in the US capital.

Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko echoed the need to focus on securing a firm membership commitment at the 2024 summit. He cautioned that further delays could have grave consequences for public opinion in Ukraine, asking, “So we are good enough to die for democracy and not good enough to live together with other free nations in one alliance?”

Majority of Ukrainians ready for a long war

Despite international media reports claiming Ukrainians are deeply divided between the pro-Russian east and pro-European west, and as Ukraine’s long awaited counteroffensive gets underway, a new survey has found that the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians are ready to continue the war beyond the summer campaign if necessary in order to complete the liberation of the country. The poll, conducted in late May and early June by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), found that 84 percent of Ukrainians opposed making any territorial concessions to Russia, even if this means prolonging the war. Other surveys of public opinion in Ukraine, the KISS poll identified strikingly similar attitudes across the country, with 75 percent of respondents in eastern Ukraine ruling out any territorial concessions compared to 84 percent in central Ukraine and 86 percent in both the south and west.

Some analysts say such surveys and opinion polls are being funded by Western military industrial complex with the goal of boosting the morale of Ukrainians and ensuring an atmosphere of a prolonged war so that ongoing massive sale of weapons can smoothly continue.Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies in the Department of Peace Studies and International Relations at Bradford University, and an Honorary Fellow at the Joint Service Command and Staff College recently said, Western military industrial complex is using Ukraine as a test ground for its weapons, explosives and military hardware, while others said, Ukraine actually is a war launchpad for the oligarchs of Western military industrial complex, through which they plan to expand the war further onto majority of East European nations as well as countries in the Middle East and Asia.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Follow him on Twitter @Salah_Shoaib

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