Article 5 Or G7? Why Ukraine Is Marginally Stronger After Vilnius
After a rocky start, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had reason to be happy after this week's NATO summit. The military bloc pledged fast-tracked membership once the war is over, as well as military support from the entire G7 block for the duration of the conflict.
PARIS — Angry on Tuesday, happy on Wednesday. Can the outcome of the Vilnius NATO Summit be measured by the changing mood of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky? That would be a bit reductive, but it does give an idea of the dramatic nature of major international meetings, where nothing is over until the final clap.
On his arrival in Vilnius on Tuesday, President Zelensky had some very harsh words for the NATO leaders who seemed to be closing the door on him, even speaking of a "lack of respect." In the Kremlin, this performance must have been followed with delight.
But at the end of the day, Ukraine certainly emerged from the summit stronger than ever, even though it is still not a member of NATO. This may seem paradoxical, but there are good reasons why.
No Article 5, but...
The first explanation is simply that it was highly unlikely that Ukraine would be able to join immediately: the U.S. didn't want it, as the entire alliance would have found itself directly involved in the war. From this point of view, Ukrainian hopes were ill-founded, or perhaps simply tactical.
It is the Holy Grail of collective security.
In reality, Ukraine got everything it could have hoped for, except for the famous Article 5, which guarantees automatic solidarity for a member who experiences aggression.
Article 5 of the Atlantic Charter is the Holy Grail of collective security. But it was precisely to preserve its credibility that Joe Biden could not grant it to a country involved in a war. Either the Americans entered the war, or Article 5 would lose its value. Yet it remains a bulwark for the countries on the alliance's eastern flank — Poland, the Baltic States, and now also Sweden and Finland, the new members.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron
In Vilnius, however, Ukraine received a number of endorsements that make it more confident about its future. Firstly, the assurance that it will join NATO as soon as the conflict is over, by means of an unprecedented fast-track procedure. Secondly, security guarantees provided directly by the Alliance's main powers: the U.S., the UK, France and Germany.
It's not Article 5, but it's close, and above all it will have a major impact on any peace negotiations. Finally, Ukraine's allies — the EU, NATO and even the G7 with Japan — have pledged to provide all the military and economic assistance Ukraine needs to repel Russian aggression.
This explains Volodymyr Zelensky's final satisfaction. The Ukrainian President feared that a rejection of membership in Vilnius would be interpreted in the Kremlin as a sign of weakness from NATO, as a flaw in Western support for Kyiv. In the end, it would be very risky for Vladimir Putin to interpret what happened in Vilnius as a weakening of support for Ukraine.
France's announcement that it will supply Ukraine with SCALP medium-range missiles, on top of similar missiles already supplied by the UK, reinforces the military support that is steadily strengthening Kyiv's army. Ukraine can only count on this more sophisticated weaponry, and on training its men to NATO standards, to counterbalance a larger Russian army with air superiority and endless ammunition.
Once the political ordeal is over, we're back to the reality of the military field. This is where the balance of power is determined. The only one that really counts.
- When Will Ukraine Join NATO? All Eyes On Vilnius, And The Frontline ›
- Reading Biden In Vilnius: NATO Is About To Make Ukraine Stronger Than Ever ›
- Enemies Past And Present? How The NATO Summit Looked In Russia ›
- Putin On Wagner, Hollywood On Strike, Pets On Stage - Worldcrunch ›