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Ukraine's NATO Membership: A Crucial Step for Enduring Peace

The events of December 14, where the European Union's leaders decided to open talks with Ukraine about joining the organization, marked a turning point for millions of Ukrainians who have endured years of war and hardship.


Russian President Vladimir Putin's televised press conference on the same day underscored the stark contrast between the visions of Ukraine's future. Putin made it clear that Russia's political and military aims had not changed since the beginning of the war, emphasizing its interest in the subjugation of Ukraine. The message from Moscow highlighted the reality of modern-day Russia.


As long as Putin is in power, Russia poses a threat not only to Ukraine but to the security of all of Europe. It is crucial for the democratic world to support a free and independent Ukraine and deter a militaristic and imperialistic Russia. Strong commitments to Ukraine through military assistance, EU accession, and NATO membership are essential to making Putin understand that he cannot outlast Kyiv and that sustainable peace is possible.


To achieve lasting peace, Ukraine must defeat Russia on the battlefield and restore its territorial integrity. Despite heroic resistance by Ukrainian armed forces, Russia continues its aggression. The support of the democratic world, as outlined in the Kyiv Security Compact, is critical for Ukraine's victory. The compact sets out principles for long-term security guarantees, and 32 countries have signed on, holding consultations on bilateral agreements to ensure Ukraine has the necessary weapons to repel Russian forces.


Ukraine's victory depends on utilizing the economic and industrial might of the democratic world, surpassing that of Russia and its allies. European countries, in particular, must prepare their defense industries to provide multi-year contracts for weapons and guarantees, enabling Ukraine to outproduce Russia. This concerted effort will demonstrate the political will necessary to make Putin understand that his war is unwinnable.


Moving Ukraine towards EU membership is crucial for its recovery and rebuilding, providing a political and financial framework. A prosperous Ukraine within the EU acts as a bulwark against an autocratic Russia, both ideologically and through the mutual defense clause in EU treaties. However, EU membership alone cannot replace NATO's Article 5, which requires members to consider an armed attack against one as an attack against all.


Despite uncertainties about the conditions for Ukraine's NATO membership, issuing an invitation would send a clear message to Putin that his war is already lost. The exemption from the membership action plan and the creation of the Ukraine-NATO Council are positive steps, but a clear invitation at the upcoming NATO summit in Washington, D.C., in July would bring the world closer to peace.


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