The holding of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Ukraine for the first time in history has great political, symbolic, and PR significance. But it’s not the main thing. For Ukraine, it is much more important for the PA meeting to have some structural consequences.
It is worth mentioning Kurt Volker's recent statement. He is not a man to produce some messages "on his own part", since after each significant meeting he takes a pause until he receives certain clarifications or until he defends successfully his position in the U.S. State Department, and only does he make statements. So when Volker speaks, we can assume that he is voicing the consolidated position of the American establishment. A few months ago the U.S. envoy for Ukraine negotiations, said that Ukraine should work very hard until 2020 so that the issue of its possible membership in NATO was considered.
But in Ukraine, for some reason, many thought that these words meant everything was just bad in the country. Well, indeed, there are still plenty of bad things going on, and many tasks have not been implemented. But when we say, for example, about the adaptation of the Ukrainian army and weapons system to the NATO standards, a lot has already been done in this direction. However, there are steps that need to be taken, without which joining NATO would be impossible.
For some reason, everyone forgot that in Volker's statement there was a clear mention of the year 2020.
Russia should not even claim to be a great geopolitical player and hope for the possibility of a bipolar world.
Today, the United States is developing a serious geopolitical strategic plan, and Washington has some expectations for what should happen before 2020. Nobody knows the details yet - only the strategic points are being voiced: in particular, the fact that such a strategic and geopolitical plan exists, as well as certain nuances that Russia's geopolitical role will be seriously reduced. That is, Russia should not even claim to be a great geopolitical player and hope for the possibility of a bipolar world.
It should be understood that the possibility of Ukraine and Georgia gaining full-fledged membership in NATO, or at least obtaining a NATO-Ukraine MAP has always been blocked precisely by Russia. There were ultimatums, threats, and bargaining, all of which ultimately led to the fact that this issue was not considered.
If this prospect is actually considered for 2020, I assume that by that year NATO will have formed a consensus on delivering a well-formulated MAP plan. I assume that this MAP plan with serious prospects of full and equal NATO membership will be voiced at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Ukraine. It is very likely that this will happen because the coincidence of such dates is never accidental.
NATO has definitively determined that its strategic enemy and adversary is primarily Russia.
Moreover, despite the fact that the formal MAP plan for Ukraine is not yet on the table, it is actually de facto being implemented in Ukraine. On some reform Ukraine gets advice, and some are specified by Kyiv on its own, and necessary changes do happen. Moreover, if Ukraine does not make the required changes in some areas, it is provided with recommendations that actually replace the MAP, for example, with regard to the logistics system, the system of interoperability with NATO member states in terms of ammo, the system of command of troops (which, if Ukraine becomes a NATO member state, must be absolutely unified so that Ukraine's position with other members of the Alliance can consolidate at any moment). In this regard, Ukraine still has some very serious gaps. Now Kyiv is being given a task to fix this.
Therefore, there is now a high probability that a rapid process of granting Ukraine a MAP will take place in 2020 with a rapid prospect of Ukraine’s further accession to NATO after 2020. And I believe that the upcoming NATO PA meeting has much more significance for Ukraine than just symbolism.
NATO has definitively determined that its strategic enemy and adversary is primarily Russia. And only then go international terrorism, the Islamic State, North Korea and some new formats of terrorism.
Therefore, the only thing that can undermine any further rapprochement between Ukraine and NATO, including the holding of the PA meeting, is the victory in 2019 elections of political forces with a candid or concealed pro-Russian stance. If this scenario is implemented, the PA meeting will not be held, and it will be possible to talk about the freezing of contacts. Although NATO will continue to say that everything is just fine... as it was during the Yanukovych rule – then NATO cooperated with Ukraine in a normal way, however no one guaranteed any breakthroughs and gave no promises.
Taras Chornovil is a political analyst