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Georgia and Ukraine enter NATO together, or fall away together

Tuesday, July 1
In Poland last week, Georgia’s foreign minister said categorically that the country, if given the chance, would not move toward NATO membership without Ukraine alongside.

It is a touching nod toward the strong ties between the two states, but not the breathtaking promise it may look like. It is not Georgia which has decided to tie its fate to Ukraine: NATO did.

Before the alliance gathered in Bucharest this April, its leaders consolidated the question of Georgian and Ukrainian membership into a single neat package—one which could be weighed on the scales against Russia’s interests.

Germany made its calculations, and decided to sink Georgian and Ukrainian hopes for a membership action plan. But NATO leadership also issued a statement promising that both countries would one day join the alliance.

Georgia and Ukraine did not just share the political victory of that statement; they also shared one critical obstacle to a membership action plan: Russia. And only when Russia’s concerns about eastward NATO expansion are thoroughly mitigated will Georgia and Ukraine—together—be able to move toward membership.

Many here missed that point, criticizing the foreign minister’s statement for supposedly putting bilateral ties with Ukraine above Georgia’s national security interests.

But in fact the statement cost Georgia nothing. And aside from further strengthening ties with Ukraine, it reinforced the point that Georgia and Ukraine will one day either stand together in NATO—or fall together to Russia.