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This House would extend NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine
This House would extend NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was founded in 1949 as a political and military alliance binding western European democracies such as Britain and France together with the USA and Canada. It was intended to defend Europe against Soviet communism, which in response built the Warsaw Pact as its own alliance bloc in Eastern and Central Europe. The basis of NATO is that an attack on any of its members will be taken as an attack upon all of them, and that the whole military might of the alliance will be mobilised in response. Because of the deep seriousness of this guarantee, new members can only join NATO if they are prepared to fully commit to collective security, and if all the existing member states vote to extend the guarantee to them.
By the collapse of communism in the late 1980s most of the western European democracies and Turkey had joined NATO, although some including Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland remain neutral to this day. The end of the Cold War brought the collapse of both the Warsaw Pact and of communism, and the future of NATO in the absence of these former threats seemed uncertain. The alliance continued, however, intervening in the Balkans in the 1990s and undertaking a peacekeeping role in Afghanistan following the 2001 campaign against the Taliban. It also continued to expand, taking in newly democratic former Warsaw Pact members such as Poland, Hungary and Romania. This expansion led NATO into friction with Moscow, which resented its former client states becoming American allies, in spite of informal Western promises to Gorbachev not to expand NATO to these states, and hosting advanced weapons systems which it feared could be turned against Russia. Most offensive to Russia, however, was the 2004 entry into NATO of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, three Baltic states which had once been part of the Soviet Union itself. Despite Russian protests the Baltic countries were accepted into NATO and their forces integrated into its military structure.
NATO membership greatly appeals to the newly democratic states of Central and Eastern Europe, who remain wary of Russia and keen to associate themselves with western democracy and prosperity. In most cases, NATO membership has been followed by EU membership, although the two organisations are separate and do not fully overlap in membership. The USA has also been an enthusiast for the expansion of NATO, and has most recently championed the applications for membership of Georgia and Ukraine. These two former states of the USSR both removed pro-Russian regimes in their 2003 Rose revolution and 2004 Orange revolution respectively, events which the Kremlin saw as the result of western meddling. Since then politics in both states have been turbulent, with Ukraine split between pro-NATO and pro-Moscow elements. In most of Georgia opinion is more united, but two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have resisted rule from Tbilisi and managed their own affairs under Russian patronage.
At its Bucharest conference in the spring of 2008, the United States urged its allies to offer Georgia and Ukraine Membership Action Plans (MAPs) but was unable to persuade all of its European partners to do so. Georgia and Ukraine were, however, given assurances that they would one day be welcomed into NATO; assurances which went down badly in Moscow. In August 2008 events came to a head when Georgia took military action in South Ossetia and Russia quickly sent troops into the enclave. The American-trained Georgian army was rapidly routed and Russia gained military control of both breakaway regions, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared their independence. Although few other states have recognised their independence, the episode has raised fears of a new Cold War and called into question the wisdom of offering Georgia and Ukraine NATO membership. This debate topic looks at what NATO should now do.
|Points For||Points Against|
|The people of Ukraine and Georgia want to join||The West needs to deal with Russia|
|Expansion is in the interests of NATO||The West is reliant on Russia’s Gas reserves|
|There is a strong precedent for expansion||NATO is divided on how to deal with Georgia|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
The people of Ukraine and Georgia want to join
Many people in both Ukraine and Georgia wish to join NATO, and that is the best reason for welcoming them into the alliance. NATO is an alliance of democratic states and should respond positively to the request of a sovereign nation. In Georgia a non-binding referendum on whether to join NATO showed 77% of voters in favor of joining. Polls show that some 50% of Ukrainians in 2002 said that would support Ukraine’s membership in NATO if a referendum on this issue were held.
Both states are at risk of being pushed around by Russia, partly because their desire to adopt “western” democratic values is at odds with the more autocratic values of Russia’s leadership. They also fear that Russia has designs on their territory and sovereignty, knowing that many in the Russian elite have never fully accepted the collapse of the old Soviet Union. Joining NATO offers Georgia and Ukraine the protection of a proven alliance and a clear route to European Union membership that has already been travelled by other former Soviet states. Ukraine and Georgia as European states have a right to join NATO if they would satisfy all criteria for NATO membership.
 NATO, ‘Backgrounder, Deepening relations with Georgia’, NATO Public Diplomacy Division, 2011, p.15, http://www.nato.int/nato_static/assets/pdf/pdf_publications/20111109_bac...
Katchanovski, Ivan, ‘The Orange Evolution? The “Orange Revolution” and Political Changes in Ukraine.” Post-Soviet Affairs, 24 (4), 2008, p. 376.
 Katchanovski, Ivan, ‘Puzzles of EU and NATO Accession of Post-Communist Countries.’ Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 12 (3), 2011, p 309.
It is far from the settled will of the Georgian and Ukrainian peoples that they wish to join NATO. Georgia’s President Saakashvili does wish to join, but after his disastrous attempt to regain control of South Ossetia it is very unclear if his countrymen agree with him, and indeed whether he will survive in power. He also cannot remain in power after 2013 possibly opening the way towards better relations with Russia. Public opposition to NATO membership in Ukraine since the US-led war in Iraq 2003 outweighed support for joining the alliance. Ukraine is split over NATO membership, with most of the Russian-speaking East of the country firmly opposed to the idea, and only about 30% support overall. The crisis of Ukraine’s coalition over how to respond to the conflict in Georgia shows how unsettled Ukrainian politics is. In any case, NATO membership should not automatically be extended to every nation which wishes it, but only offered when the current members of the alliance judge it to be in their strategic interest to do so.
 Traub, James, ‘The Georgia Syndrome’, ForeignPolicy, 13 August 2010, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/08/13/the_georgia_syndrome
 Katchanovski, Ivan, ‘The Orange Evolution? The “Orange Revolution” and Political Changes in Ukraine.” Post-Soviet Affairs, 24 (4), 2008, p. 376.
 Atwell, Kyle, ‘Two Different Paths to NATO: Georgia and Ukraine’, Atlantic Review, 7 November 2008, http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1206-Two-Different-Paths-to-NATO-Geor...
Expansion is in the interests of NATO
Expansion to include Georgia and Ukraine is in the interests of NATO. After more than a decade without a clear role, the alliance now once again stands for the principle of solidarity between western liberal democracies. The hopes of the 1990s for a new world order in which a democratic and liberalising Russia would see partnership with NATO and other western clubs as strongly in its own interest died during the Presidency of Vladimir Putin. Russia once again poses a threat to Europe and needs to be contained or at least shown that NATO has not forgotten about it. This is shown by President Putin’s continuing lashing out at foreign countries for funding NGOs and plans to boost defense spending. Extending NATO up to Russia’s southern border will signal the West’s strength and determination and force Russia to respect the alliance and its members.
 Cullison, Alan, ‘Putin Warms West on Interference’, The Wall Street Journal, 28 November 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204753404577064260032325868.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
Further expansion is not in NATO’s interests. The alliance is based on the principle that the security of one is the security of all, so that all members will go to war if any one member is attacked. This is a very serious commitment and should not lightly be extended to new nations. The irresponsible manner in which Georgia provoked a conflict with Russia, ignoring US warnings, shows the danger of being sucked into quarrels in which most NATO members have no strategic interest. It was obvious from this conflict that Georgia could not defend itself so the burden would fall on NATO. Like the breakaway regions of Georgia, Ukraine also contains many Russian-speakers who look to Moscow for protection, especially in the Crimea which hosts Russia’s Black Sea fleet. It is not difficult to imagine circumstances in which Ukrainian membership could bring NATO into a dangerous confrontation with Russia.
 Tayler, Jeffrey, ‘Russia: Back to the Future’, the Atlantic, September 2008, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/09/russia-back-to-the-f...
There is a strong precedent for expansion
There is a strong precedent for letting Ukraine and Georgia join NATO. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are also former Soviet states, and Russia objected to their entry into NATO quite as much as it objects today about its Black Sea neighbours. Yet Russia was not allowed a veto over their futures, and it soon got over its annoyance, continuing to participate in joint forums with NATO and to cooperate with the USA over Afghanistan, North Korea and nuclear non-proliferation. So NATO is already committed to the defence of states in Russia’s near-abroad, and should not fear further expansion.
 Black, Stephen J., ‘NATO Enlargement and the Baltic States: What Can the Great Powers Do’, Strategic Studies Institute, November 1997, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/summary.cfm?q=146
In retrospect, the decision to welcome the former Soviet states in the Baltic into NATO appears foolish. They continue to have a prickly relationship with Russia, which has some legitimate concerns about the treatment of large Russian minorities in Latvia and Estonia, and about the siting of US nuclear defences. Their entry into NATO was forced upon Russia, which naturally saw it as an aggressive move designed to humiliate it, and marked the point when its pro-western policy shifted to a more nationalist and confrontational approach. It also weakened the unity of NATO as there are quite legitimate doubts as to whether all the alliance’s members would really go to war with Russia over the integrity of, say, Estonia. Given this history, it would be madness to compound the problem by extending NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine.Improve this
The West needs to deal with Russia
Western countries should seek to compromise with Russia, as they need its cooperation in a whole range of areas. Global efforts against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, energy security and organised crime will all fail without Russian participation. Russia’s veto power on the United Nations Security Council also means that alienating Moscow could frustrate international efforts to bring security and freedom to states such as Sudan, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Iraq. And NATO depends on Russian goodwill to allow supplies into Afghanistan via the safer northern route, cooperation that is likely to be withdrawn if Georgia and Ukraine remain candidates for membership.
 Cullison, Alan, ‘Russia Considers Blocking NATO Supply Routes’, The Telegraph, 28 November 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020475340457706642110659245...
We do not need to buy Russia cooperation by sacrificing Georgian and Ukrainian sovereignty. The West would like Russian cooperation in a whole range of areas, but this isn’t a zero sum game where if one side wins the other must lose out. Russia should also worry about issues such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and the threat posed by failed states, so it is in its own interests to work with international partners to find global solutions. It also wants World Trade Organisation membership to continue its economic growth, especially if oil and gas prices should fall. For these reasons Russia will not make its whole foreign policy dependent on the expansion of NATO, but can be relied upon to continue existing partnerships because they are of mutual benefit.Improve this
The West is reliant on Russia’s Gas reserves
NATO’s European members have an additional reason not to offend Russia by continuing to expand the alliance in defiance of Moscow. Much of Europe depends on imports of Russian gas for their energy needs, Russia currently supplies 25% of European gas and this may rise to as high as 55% by 2020. Unfortunately the Kremlin has made clear over the past three years that it is prepared to use its control of energy as a political weapon. It has already limited the flow of energy to states (e.g. Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia) who have annoyed it on several occasions, and may well be prepared to turn lights, heating and factories off across Europe in retaliation for interference in its near abroad.
Russia’s energy riches in a time of high oil prices also mean that it is far richer and self-confident than at any time since the fall of communism. The profits of its energy wealth have also enabled its military to be strengthened. This means that even if Moscow backed down in response to western assertiveness in the past, it is now determined to overturn past humiliations.
 Paillard, Christophe-Alexandre, ‘Rethinking Russia: Russia and Europe’s Mutual Energy Dependence’, Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 63, No.2, Spring/Summer 2010, pp.65-84, http://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/russia-and-europe%E2%80%99s-mutual-energy-d...
 Weir, Fred, ‘Why Russia is cutting off gas supplies to Belarus’, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 June 2010, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/0621/Why-Russia-is-cutting-of...
Russian strength is illusory – the country’s wealth is highly dependent on the energy exports and its economy is very vulnerable to a fall in oil and gas prices. Russia needs to sell its oil at $115 per barrel for the budget to balance. Despite recent hostility to foreign oil firms attempting to operate in Russia, in the long term the country also needs western investment and technology if it is to maintain its energy output by opening and exploiting new fields. Indeed, Europe cannot be held hostage to Russian energy policy – who else could Russia sell its oil and gas to?
Russia’s apparent military strength is also deceptive – its army and air force actually performed badly in Georgia and are no match for the modern forces available to NATO.
 Nikishenkov, Oleg, ‘Oil muddles Russia’s budget debate’, themoscownews, 16 May 2011, http://themoscownews.com/business/20110516/188670156.html
NATO is divided on how to deal with Georgia
The conflict in Georgia showed how NATO is already badly divided over how to respond to Russia. Old European states such as Germany and Italy are much readier to accommodate Russian interests than America, which is supported by newer NATO members such as Poland and the Czech Republic. The United States faces a danger that if it continues to push for NATO expansion in the face of Russian objections, it will split the alliance completely.
 Traynor, Ian, ‘Nato allies divided over Ukraine and Georgia’, guardian.co.uk, 2 December 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/02/ukraine-georgia
Dramatic and depressing as events in Georgia in 2008 were, the loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia actually make Georgia better suited to NATO membership than before. There would have been a clear danger of allowing Georgia into NATO if the status of these breakaway regions was unsettled, with the obvious potential for conflict with their Russian patron. Once Georgia can be brought to accept the permanent loss of these territories to Russia, then it becomes a much more united country, without any other obvious grounds for Russia’s future interference.Improve this
Atwell, Kyle, ‘Two Different Paths to NATO: Georgia and Ukraine’, Atlantic Review, 7 November 2008, http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1206-Two-Different-Paths-to-NATO-Geor...
Black, Stephen J., ‘NATO Enlargement and the Baltic States: What Can the Great Powers Do’, Strategic Studies Institute, November 1997, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/summary.cfm?q=146
Cullison, Alan, ‘Putin Warms West on Interference’, The Wall Street Journal, 28 November 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204753404577064260032325868.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
Cullison, Alan, ‘Russia Considers Blocking NATO Supply Routes’, The Telegraph, 28 November 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204753404577066421106592452.html
Katchanovski, Ivan, ‘The Orange Evolution? The “Orange Revolution” and Political Changes in Ukraine.” Post-Soviet Affairs, 24 (4), 2008
NATO, ‘Backgrounder, Deepening relations with Georgia’, NATO Public Diplomacy Division, 2011, p.15, http://www.nato.int/nato_static/assets/pdf/pdf_publications/20111109_bac...
Nikishenkov, Oleg, ‘Oil muddles Russia’s budget debate’, themoscownews, 16 May 2011, http://themoscownews.com/business/20110516/188670156.html
Paillard, Christophe-Alexandre, ‘Rethinking Russia: Russia and Europe’s Mutual Energy Dependence’, Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 63, No.2, Spring/Summer 2010, pp.65-84, http://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/russia-and-europe%E2%80%99s-mutual-energy-d...
Tayler, Jeffrey, ‘Russia: Back to the Future’, the Atlantic, September 2008, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/09/russia-back-to-the-future/7029/
Traub, James, ‘The Georgia Syndrome’, ForeignPolicy, 13 August 2010, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/08/13/the_georgia_syndrome
Traynor, Ian, ‘Nato allies divided over Ukraine and Georgia’, guardian.co.uk, 2 December 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/02/ukraine-georgia
Weir, Fred, ‘Why Russia is cutting off gas supplies to Belarus’, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 June 2010, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2010/0621/Why-Russia-is-cutting-off-gas-supplies-to-Belarus
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