Why Ukraine Wants to Join NATO?

The Inclusion of Ukraine in NATO

Ukraine is a country that has been at war with Russia since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea and supported armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine has also been seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance of 30 countries that pledge to defend each other in case of an attack. However, Ukraine’s path to NATO membership has been fraught with challenges and uncertainties. In this article, we will examine the reasons why Ukraine wants to join NATO, the obstacles it faces, and the prospects for its future integration.

Why Ukraine Wants to Join NATO

Ukraine’s main motivation for joining NATO is to enhance its security and sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression. Ukraine sees NATO as a guarantor of its territorial integrity and a deterrent against further Russian expansionism. Ukraine also hopes that NATO membership will boost its political and economic reforms, strengthen its democracy and rule of law, and foster its integration with the European Union (EU), which it also aspires to join.

Ukraine has been cooperating with NATO since 1991, when it gained independence from the Soviet Union. ¹ Ukraine has participated in various NATO-led missions and exercises, contributed to the fight against terrorism and piracy, and implemented reforms to modernize its defense sector. Ukraine has also declared its intention to join NATO several times, most notably in 2008 and 2020. ²

The Obstacles to Ukraine’s NATO Membership

Ukraine’s bid to join NATO faces several challenges, both internal and external. Some of the main obstacles are:

Russia’s opposition

Russia views NATO as a hostile bloc that threatens its interests and security. Russia has repeatedly warned that it would not tolerate Ukraine’s accession to NATO and that it would take countermeasures if that happens. Russia has also used military force, economic pressure, cyberattacks, propaganda, and covert operations to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and stability.

NATO’s reluctance

NATO has expressed its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but it has not offered a clear roadmap or timeline for its membership. NATO has also been divided on how to deal with Russia and how to balance its enlargement with its dialogue with Moscow. Some NATO members, such as Germany and France, are more cautious and reluctant to provoke Russia or commit to defending Ukraine militarily. ⁵

Ukraine’s readiness

Ukraine still needs to meet the criteria and standards for joining NATO, which include democratic values, civilian control of the military, interoperability with NATO forces, defense spending, anti-corruption measures, and human rights. Ukraine also needs to resolve its internal conflicts, such as the war in Donbas, the status of Crimea, and the rights of ethnic minorities. Ukraine also needs to build public support and consensus for joining NATO among its citizens and political parties.

The Prospects for Ukraine’s NATO Membership

Despite the challenges, Ukraine’s prospects for joining NATO are not hopeless. There are some positive signs and developments that indicate a possible progress in the future. Some of these are:

NATO’s reaffirmation

At the June 2021 Brussels summit, NATO leaders reiterated the decision taken at the 2008 Bucharest summit that Ukraine would eventually become a NATO member with the Membership Action Plan (MAP) as an integral part of the process. They also reaffirmed Ukraine’s right to determine its future and foreign policy without outside interference.

Ukraine’s commitment

Ukraine has shown its determination and willingness to join NATO by amending its constitution in February 2019 to state its goal of NATO and EU membership.   Ukraine has also continued to implement reforms and cooperate with NATO on various areas, such as cybersecurity, energy security, defense education, and strategic communications.

US’s support

The US has been one of the strongest supporters and allies of Ukraine in its quest for joining NATO. The US has provided military aid, training, equipment, sanctions, diplomacy, and political backing for Ukraine. The US has also urged other NATO members to accelerate Ukraine’s integration and offer it a MAP as soon as possible.


Ukraine is a country that wants to join NATO for security and strategic reasons. However, Ukraine faces many challenges and uncertainties in its path to membership, such as Russia’s opposition, NATO’s reluctance, and Ukraine’s readiness. Nevertheless, Ukraine has some positive signs and developments that indicate a possible progress in the future, such as NATO’s reaffirmation, Ukraine’s commitment, and US’s support. Therefore, while Ukraine is not in NATO yet, it is not impossible that it will be one day.

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