Saturday

22nd Jan 2022

Ukraine drops Nato membership bid

The Ukrainian Parliament on Thursday (3 June) approved a bill barring the country from joining Nato, a move seen as a further concession to Moscow by the new government in Kiev, which was quick in reversing the pro-Western policies pursued by its predecessor.

The draft law, which is expected to sail through the remaining parliamentary readings and be signed by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich in the coming weeks, excludes the goal of "integration into Euro-Atlantic security and Nato membership" from the national security strategy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Russia and Ukraine are friends again (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Submitted by the president himself, the bill commits Ukraine to "a non-bloc policy which means non-participation in military-political alliances."

Nato membership was one of the main goals of Mr Yanukovich's pro-Western predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko. But the prospect of Nato enlargement to former Soviet republics has irked Russia, which claims this poses a threat to its national security.

At a Nato summit in 2008, when both Ukraine and Georgia expected to be granted formal candidate status, the US failed to rally enough support for the move, with countries such as Germany and France opposing it. Still, the two countries were promised they would join in the future, after meeting all criteria.

A special mechanism – the Nato-Ukraine and Nato-Georgia commissions – were established to try to prepare the countries at a technical level for when the political decision of joining might meet with less hostility.

Those plans are now on ice, although the Yanukovich bill does not exclude co-operation with the military alliance. It also keeps the goal of European integration.

But opposition voices said such a position is disingenous, as Nato and EU enlargement have always gone hand-in-hand in former Communist countries.

"The only guarantee of Ukraine's national security is membership in the system of collective security of Nato," Borys Tarasyuk, who had served as foreign minister in the previous government, told Associated Press.

Serhiy Sobolev, an opposition member from the bloc of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said the new pro-Russia policies are a "direct course away from European values and European integration," according to Radio Free Europe.

Since coming to power Mr Yanukovich has sought to mend ties with Moscow, a relationship which was strained by the previous government. His first gesture of goodwill was to extend a lease allowing the Russian fleet to be stationed for another 25 years in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

The same one-page deal included a deep discount on Russian gas, which prompted the opposition to accuse Mr Yanukovich of selling the country's security interests for cheap energy.

Critics also point to the fact he has made no moves on economic liberalisation or on restarting talks with the International Monetary Fund, which last year froze a multi-billion bail-out. The talks stalled over disagreements on social spending and changes to the gas market.

Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules

Environmental lawyers are threatening to take legal action against the European Commission if gas is included in the EU guidelines for sustainable finances. But the draft taxonomy has also triggered discontent among some EU national capitals and MEPs.

MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter

MEPs have recalled their demands to include the right to legal and safe abortion into the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, a day after French president Emmanuel Macron pledged to open such a debate in the EU Council.

EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines

The case is one of many disputes between the EU and Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which have started to cost money for Warsaw.

Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures

Thirty Dutch mayors have asked the national government to rethink its corona pandemic measures amid protests from museums and cultural centres against continued lockdown.

Macron promises strong EU borders

Obligatory detentions, more security-screening, and faster deportations - these are the French EU presidency's migration priorities.

MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'

MEPs will vote on new rules setting out transparency obligations for online players and holding Big Tech giants accountable. But some issues proved to be divisive after EU lawmakers tabled over a hundred amendments on the file.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

Analysis

Hydrogen - the 'no-lose bet' for fossil-fuel industry?

The EU plans to label natural gas as 'green' in sustainable investment rules. From 2026 it will have to be blended with low-carbon gases like green hydrogen - but many scientists warn this is inefficient, costly and damaging to health.

Opinion

Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

President Emmanuel Macron's address to the European Parliament championed a bold and ambitious pro-European agenda. There is one problem though - the plans rely on a system of governance that has gridlocked the EU for over a decade.

Latest News

  1. Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules
  2. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  3. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  4. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  5. Macron promises strong EU borders
  6. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  7. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  8. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us