In December 2014 Ukraine took an historic step towards NATO membership by dropping their non-aligned status – a classification given to states such as Switzerland which refuse to join military alliances and thus play no part in wars. In doing this and vowing to put Ukraine under Western military protection President Petro Poroshenko has made those in the West sit up even more and pay attention to the events in Eastern Europe.
“In essence, an application for Nato membership will turn Ukraine into a potential military opponent for Russia,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned”
But… are people over-estimating NATO. It is without doubt a shadow of the force it once was at the height of The Cold War. Of course warfare has changed since those tense days and now huge forces facing of across battlefields seem a thing of the past. Guerilla warfare, insurgencies, cyber warfare are phrases we have heard uttered again and again over the last decade.
Since the so called ‘end’ of the Cold War NATO members have been cutting down their military. The huge cuts in defence spending have led to a boom for the Governments with them being able to re-allocate these funds to different areas of society. This year, only five of Nato’s 28 members reached the target of spending 2% of GDP on defence. Belgium for example use only 1% of their Defence spending to renew contracts and purchase new equipment. Short term this reaps dividends in other areas but their lack of vision in the long term will see them having to renovate and re-equip their entire military.
This is the story across the majority of NATO members. If Ukraine gained NATO membership and Russia did attack I don’t believe NATO would have the stomach to invoke Article 5 which states “an attack on one NATO member would be treated as an attack on all?”.
So has President Petro Poroshenko got it wrong by siding with NATO and the West… would Ukraine be better served remaining a neutral state or is there still protection to be found within NATO despite it getting dragged into the War on Terror and not really having the military or financial capability to fight on two fronts. Or… has warfare changed so much that the battle for Ukraine will be fought in the boardrooms and not the battlefields?