July 5, 2015

The Path to NATO and the EU in the New Geopolitical Situation

1. Problems of the European and Euro-Atlantic Integration

2. Peculiarities of the European Integration

3. Peculiarities of the Euro-Atlantic Integration

4. Peculiarities of Ukraine's European and Euro-Atlantic Integration


The annexation of the Crimea and Russia's military aggression in the East of Ukraine have created new challenges in European and Euro-Atlantic integration of our country and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Their movement to NATO and the EU now will actually take place in the new geopolitical situation. Taking into consideration the relevance of the topic, IACGS “Borysfen Intel” starts a promising project: “The Path to NATO and the EU in the New Geopolitical Situation”. Here is the first analytical material of the project.



Features of the European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Countries of the former Soviet Union in the Situation of Russia's Military Aggression


1. Problems of the European and Euro-Atlantic Integration

Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine has virtually destroyed the entire system of European collective security, which was formed after the Second World War. Neither the UN nor the OSCE managed to cope with Moscow's aggressive policy not only towards our country but also towards other countries of the former USSR. Hopeless were also the countries, which guaranteed the security of Ukraine earlier in exchange for its giving up nuclear weapons.

The experience has shown that in such circumstances the only possible defence against the Russian Federation's encroachments of the post-Soviet countries and the guarantee of democratic development can be provided by NATO and the EU. In particular, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which at the time became members of NATO and the European Union can fully confirm this.

But if we compare the current events with the events of the late 1990s — early 2000s (the period of countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states' joining the EU and NATO), it may be noted that today the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the countries of the former Soviet Union is taking place in the situation when:

  • the NATO and EU's leadership, as well as leading European countries, are openly skeptical about further enlargement of NATO and the European Union;
  • opinions of some European countries (especially of the “old” and “new” Europe) differ, which consequently has a negative impact on the unity of NATO and the EU;
  • the population of the former Soviet Union has a different perception of the geopolitical choice of its countries (NATO, the EU or the Russian Federation), and sometimes expresses its attitude in a radical way;
  • Through its active trade-economic cooperation with European countries and as a result of Europe's dependence on Russian gas, the Russian Federation has additional leverage on the EU.

And Russia uses it as part of its strategy of confronting the Western world, seeking, inter alia, to prevent the expansion of NATO and the EU. A possible entry into NATO and the EU of countries of the former Soviet Union is seen by Russia as a direct threat to its geopolitical interests in building a Eurasian Union as a new incarnation of the Russian Empire.

In order to defend its interests, the Russian Federation uses a whole arsenal of pressure and influence on former Soviet republics, including the fueling of armed conflicts on their territories. First of all, it concerns Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as countries of the European democratic choice.

In particular, in the 1990s, Russia provoked armed conflicts in Moldova (Trans-Dniester), Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Azerbaijan (Nagornyi-Karabakh) and Chechnya; in 2008 Russia launched a war against Georgia, and in 2014 — against Ukraine (first the armed annexation of the Crimea, and then — the armed aggression in the East of Ukraine /in Donetsk and Luhansk regions/).

At this, Russia seeks to use the basic principles of NATO and the EU for its own purposes. For example, these organizations do not accept the so-called problem countries (which have not completely established the borders and have not regulated interstate /territorial, property and so on/ contradictions), and Russia, in fact seeks to use these circumstances to block further enlargement, development or strengthening of NATO and the EU. This actually prevents creation of an effective system of coalition /collective/ security on the European and Euro-Atlantic territories. This situation, which has arisen because of Russia’s desire to realize its imperial neo-policy, looks quite unstable. It needs new principles and approaches for the development of cooperation between NATO and the EU and partner countries from the former Soviet Union. Principles such as the inadmissibility of the distribution of spheres of influence in Europe and the world; NATO and the EU's unconditional right to develop all possible formats of cooperation with partner countries (including granting them with membership) without any external interference; individual approach to partner countries, taking into account peculiarities of the situation in each case; dynamic adaptation of NATO and the EU's basic documents for changes in the process of development of the situation.

If such approaches are used, in the nearest future Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia will get a chance to acquire the de facto status of the members of NATO and the EU without formal membership in these organizations.


2. Peculiarities of the European Integration

The European Union is already using new principles and approaches in cooperation with Member States within the framework of the EU's “Eastern Partnership” program, namely with Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Thus, in preparation for the EU “Eastern Partnership” Riga Summit May 21-22, 2015, the leadership of the European Union proposed a new concept of individual approach to each of the partner countries. This means, taking into consideration both, the achieved successes and the problems in their relations with the EU and other factors that affect these partners' internal and external situations.

For example, such basic indicators are as follows: real prospects for European integration of Georgia and Moldova, which started the implementation of Association Agreements with the EU; deterioration in the implementation of Ukraine's European integration plans as a result of the Russian Federation's armed aggression; deepening of allied relations between Belarus, Armenia and Russia within the format of the Eurasian Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which slows down the process of rapprochement with the EU; reduction in Azerbaijan's activity in the political issues related to European integration and at the same time its increasing interest in cooperating with the EU in the energy sector.


Today, there have been determined the following spheres of the European Union's individual partnership with the countries of the former Soviet Union:

  • assisting Ukraine in solving its social and economic problems, carrying out political and economic reforms and strengthening the fight against corruption, as well as in counteracting Russia's military aggression. Besides, special attention will be paid to completing the process of ratification and implementation of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU;
  • implementation of EU Association Agreements with Moldova and Georgia, first of all creation of free trade zones;
  • development of energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, in particular, its involvement in the implementation of the “Southern Energy Corridor” project which will contribute to the diversification of energy supplies to Europe;
  • deepening the economic cooperation with Belarus and Armenia, as well as gradual lifting of political and economic sanctions against the Belarusian authorities, which have improved the situation in the sphere of human rights.

There are great opportunities also in the development of cooperation between the European Union and the EU's partners from among the post-Soviet countries in the security sphere. The main directions of such cooperation are as follows:

  • military-technical cooperation on bilateral and multilateral levels within the framework of the European Defence Agency;
  • establishment of joint military units, including partner countries' participation in battalion tactical groups of the EU;
  • partner-countries' participation in the European Union's peacekeeping, stabilization and counter-terrorism operations.


3. Peculiarities of the Euro-Atlantic Integration

Changes may happen in the content and nature of the relationship between the countries of the former Soviet Union and NATO. Possibly a new principle will be introduced of “associated membership in NATO,” with individual different- level forms of cooperation and obligations of the parties. These approaches may include:

  • development of cooperation between NATO and the “associated members” in various traditional spheres determined in the “NATOMembershipActionPlan,” “ Enhanced Cooperation Package”, Individual Programs and the like. Under the current practice, the directions may include the following:
    • NATO's assistance in reforming the “associated members”' defence sectors and their armed forces, in accordance with the requirements and standards of the Alliance;
    • deployment on the territory of “associate members” of the Alliance's training establishments, in particular, groups of instructors, training missions, as well as NATO centers for excellence for improving skills, designed for special training of both, military units of “associate members” and those of NATO countries;
    • joint operational and combat training activities (military exercises and maneuvers) in bilateral and multilateral formats;
    • establishment of cooperation between “associate members” and NATO on the exchange of intelligence information, monitoring of air and sea space, managing air and maritime traffic and so on;
    • participation of military units of “associate members” in peacekeeping, anti-terrorism and stabilization operations of NATO and in NATO Response Force;
    • organization of military-technical cooperation between “associate members” and NATO (within the framework of relevant programs and trust funds) and individual countries of the Alliance at the bilateral level;
    • “associate members”' participation in NATO's other programs, in particular in the sphere of missile defense operations, maintenance of tactical and strategic transport, information security and struggle against cyber-terrorism, etc.;


  • enhanced cooperation between NATO and the “associate members”, beyond the above-mentioned forms. Depending on the situation, the expanded format of this cooperation can be in the form of:
    • The NATO leadership are actively discussing the creation of the largest base of the Rapid Reaction Forces in Europe
      letting “associate members” participate in the development of operational plans of NATO where they relate to their interests and certain (agreed) zone of ​​responsibility;
    • deployment of the Alliance' or individual NATO countries' peacekeeping forces in conflict zones on territories of “associate members” within the framework of international missions under the auspices of the UN, OSCE, EU and NATO;
    • deployment of military bases, facilities and units of NATO or individual NATO countries (including dislocation points, airfields, seaports, Missile Defense/Air Defense, reconnaissance and communications and so on) on the territory of “associate members” under bilateral and multilateral agreements;
    • air policing of “associate members” by air assets of NATO countries (including by the following types of planes: fighters, reconnaissance, communication relays and long-range radar detection and control planes);
    • creation of joint /coalition/ systems of control, reconnaissance, communications, MD/AD and air traffic control;
    • participation of NATO military forces and individual member countries of the Alliance in protection of extremely important facilities on the territory of “associate members” (in particular, of nuclear power plants, chemical plants, dams and water storage basins, and such like), and of their national borders;


  • adaptation to the modern realities of the Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty on Collective Security, which provides for all the allies assistance to a NATO member country, which was subjected to external aggression. For this purpose, the following provisions can be added to the document:
    • limitation of indispensable guarantees of the aid to “associate members” in repelling foreign aggression only by non-military means; a list of such funds may include the provision of political and financial and economic support to the “associate member”, as well as sanctions against the aggressor;
    • providing military assistance to “associate members” solely by the NATO-member countries, who agree to it; such assistance will be available under the two additional bilateral and multilateral agreements ;
    • allocation by “associate members” of their armed units trained up to NATO standards, as a part of NATO to perform the tasks to repel foreign aggression against the Alliance or respond to other threats of a military nature only in those cases and in those areas that directly affect the national interests of “associate members”;


  • realization of the idea of ​​creating the so-called “NATO-2” from those countries that are experiencing a serious confrontation with the Russian Federation and who are willing to jointly defend their security and interests, including by military means. The “NATO-2” can consist of:
    • the United States — as Russia's main enemy, who is able to ensure the safety of “associate members” and provide them with a real military-technical and military assistance;
    • Canada and the UK — as the leading countries of the Western world — the US' allies who have irreconcilable position in relation to Russia, and are able to provide military-technical and, to a certain extent, military aid to “associate members”;
    • Poland and Lithuania — the countries of Central-Eastern and Baltic regions with the most strained relations with Russia, experiencing Russia's pressure (including with the use of elements of the hybrid war) and consistently supporting Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova in their opposition to V. Putin's regime;
    • “associate members”: Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia — as the countries of the former USSR of the democratic European and Euro-Atlantic choice, subjects to the Russian Federation's aggression.

Besides, taking into consideration the membership of most of European countries, in both NATO and the EU, cooperation of partner countries within the framework of the North Atlantic Alliance should be combined with the cooperation within the framework of the European Union.


4. Peculiarities of Ukraine's European and Euro-Atlantic Integration

Experts of “Borysfen Intel” believe that the proposed approaches will allow to strengthen the security of the countries-“associate members”, and also to largely eliminate the problems associated with getting their official membership in NATO and the EU. To date, some of the above said is already being implemented in practice and demonstrates its effectiveness and efficiency, as evidenced by:

  • Peacekeeping operations of 2013–2014
    Ukraine's active cooperation with NATO and the European Union in the military-political sphere, within the framework of Ukraine-NATO Commission and Ukraine-EU Council;
  • NATO and EU's assistance in reforming the security sphere of Ukraine and bringing it closer to Western standards;
  • Ukraine's activity in military, peacekeeping and stabilization operations with the assistance of NATO and the EU in the countries of former Yugoslavia (since 1992 at the level of company and battalion); in Iraq (since 2003 at the level of brigade, task force and the training personnel); in Africa (Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, the DRC since 2004 at the level of helicopter detachments), in Afghanistan (since 2007 at the level of individual groups of peacekeeping personnel), etc.;
  • Ukraine's military unit's participation in the NATO Response Force as well as considering the question of participation of Ukrainians in the EU battalion task group of the “Visegrad Group” (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary);
  • Ukraine's work within the framework of NATO and the EU's military programs (projects), in particular, participation of Ukrainian military transport aircrafts in strategic air transportation in the interests of the USA, EU and NATO, as well as participation of transport and attack helicopters in securing peacekeeping operations (missions);
  • military-technical cooperation between Ukraine and the EU within the framework of the European Defence Agency (among other things — Ukraine's getting information from the Space Centre in Spain), as well as with individual European countries (in particular, the implementation of the Ukrainian-Polish program for the production and modernization of armored vehicles);
  • development of military cooperation between Ukraine and NATO countries on a bilateral and multilateral principles outside the North Atlantic Alliance and the European Union, in particular in the form of creating a joint Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian peacekeeping brigade, as well as the Ukrainian-Romanian-Slovakian-Hungarian Tisa engineering battalion.


A separate, very important sphere of ​​cooperation with foreign countries and international organizations is the United States, NATO and the EU's aid to Ukraine in its countering the Russian Federation's armed aggression.

First of all, such assistance is provided in the form of: the pressure on Russia by introducing political and economic sanctions against it; providing assistance to Ukraine in different negotiating formats (the UN, OSCE, “Norman Quartet”); allocation of financial resources for the development of the Ukrainian economy and strengthening of the Ukrainian Armed Forces; the transfer of military equipment for the needs of the Ukrainian army; the European Union's reversible gas supplies to Ukraine.

At the same time, representatives of the European countries are involved in the special observation mission of the OSCE in the conflict zone in the East of Ukraine. We also consider the issue of bringing the member countries of NATO and the EU for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in the East of Ukraine (in the mid-90s the introduction of such forces on the territory of Croatia helped to avoid the expansion of the armed conflict in the country, which later became a member of both, the North Atlantic Alliance and European Union).

It should be noted that the implementation of such an approach fully requires solving of a set of complex problems, which will take considerable effort and time. In particular, first of all it is necessary:

  • to make appropriate changes to the regulatory framework of NATO and the EU, individual member states of these organizations, as well as partner-countries and “associate members”, where it relates to military cooperation and mutual commitment on bilateral and multilateral principles;
  • to reform the defence sector of the partner-countries and “associate members” of NATO and the EU in accordance with Western standards, and to ensure compatibility of their armed forces with the armed forces of NATO and joint military forces of the European Union;
  • to persuade the governing and leading political forces of NATO and the EU member- countries that deepening of cooperation with partner-countries and “associate members” of the former Soviet republics is needed first of all to strengthen countering the threats from the aggressive Russia;
  • to generate a positive perception of Ukraine's membership in NATO and the EU by both, their populations and countries of the former Soviet Union, through organizing targeted information campaign (including within the framework of the relevant Plans to Counter the Russian propaganda in the EU and NATO) about no alternative to the democratic choice of the European and Euro-Atlantic future of Ukraine;
  • to resolve the issue of financial security of measures of the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the post-Soviet countries in the situation of their financial and economic problems.

To Ukraine, it is very important to stop the Russian aggression on its East, which is a most important prerequisite for the active dynamics of development of its European and Euro-Atlantic direction of the foreign policy and sustainable development of economic reforms.




Of course, the “Borysfen Intel”'s experts' estimates do not pretend to be the final completion and only determine possible further efforts of NATO and the EU and their partner-countries to overcome in the process of convergence and integration of the obstacles created by Russia. The principal change in the situation in this sphere suggests the joint comprehensive work of all sides interested, as well as of a wide public debate, to which the Independent Analytical Centre for Geopolitical Studies “Borysfen Intel” invites all the concerned.