After years of backdoor diplomatic talks between Ukrainian and North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) officials, Western contemplation and, most recently, the Kerch Strait clash incident, Ukraine is now set to join the ever eastwards expanding US-led military bloc.
The announcement was made by Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, Pavlo Klimkin, following a NATO meeting with Ukrainian and Georgian diplomatic officials a couple of days ago.
The timing of the announcement as well as the meeting that led to it all indicate that if NATO is actually genuine about incorporating Ukraine into its ranks, then this represents the Western response – official or unofficial – to the Kerch Strait clash.
Although Russia has tolerated two decades of NATO expansion towards its western borders, Ukraine’s incorporation into the alliance may, for Moscow, represent just one country too far.
De facto Western military access to hundreds of kilometers in length of Russia’s southwest border gravely threatens may of the country’s strategic air force, army and naval bases based throughout the Black Sea and Caucasian regions. A theoretical attack – conventional or nuclear – against these sites could be launched with virtually no warning time, literally not even minutes, for the Russian military respond.
Because of this, the legitimacy of Klimkin’s claim will be assess-able by Moscow’s response, or lack of response, to it in the coming days and weeks.