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West Made Mistake in 2008 In Not Providing Georgia and Ukraine with Clear Membership Path, Former NATO Secretary-General Says

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with Foreign Policy that the west made a mistake when it did not provide Ukraine and Georgia with a clear path to NATO membership in 2008.

“We made a mistake many years ago. The first mistake was back in 2008 when we had a NATO summit in Bucharest in which we decided that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO but we couldn’t agree on granting them a so-called membership action plan,” he said.

Rasmussen noted that he had been in favor of granting the MAP to Georgia and Ukraine during the summit but “we couldn’t achieve consensus within NATO.” According to him, the split within NATO sent the wrong message to Putin, who attacked Georgia a few months after in August 2008. He stressed that another mistake was made in 2014 after the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation, where some sanctions were introduced, but ‘they were mild sanctions’. According to Rasmussen, all that gave Putin the impression that he could, almost without any cost, continue and grab land by force.

He stressed that Ukraine must win this war, noting that if Putin succeeds in Ukraine, he would not stop.

"He will continue into Moldova, Georgia, and eventually also put pressure on the three Baltic states. That’s why the Ukrainians must win, and they have the will to fight. It’s our duty to give them the means to fight," he said.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel also touched upon the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, stating that she did not support Georgia and Ukraine's NATO membership action plan “because it could have been harmful”.

According to Deutsche Welle, Merkel said that if Ukraine and Georgia had been granted the membership, Russian President Vladimir Putin could have caused "enormous damage in Ukraine," as it did with Georgia when Russia invaded less than six months after this declaration in Bucharest, instigating Europe’s first war in the 21st century. Merkel also mentioned systemic corruption issues in Ukraine as reasons to block their membership.

In April Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized Angela Merkel and the former leader of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that their decisions have enabled Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine. “I invite Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy to visit Bucha, to see what the policy of 14 years of concessions to Russia has led to,” Zelensky said following the war crimes committed by Russian forces in Bucha, a city in Ukraine’s Kyiv region.

Later, he specified that he did not blame the West or anyone else except the Russians who committed crimes against Ukrainians, “but we have the right to talk about indecision,” he added.