Ukraine’s desire to join NATO has led Kyiv to seek Germany’s assistance in paving the way for its accession to the military alliance. Over the past 16 months, Germany’s political influence within NATO has significantly grown, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s “Zeitenwende” speech signaling a shift in German defense spending and the attention of other NATO members towards Germany for guidance on Ukraine’s aspirations.
Mapping Ukraine’s Path to NATO:
A Berlin-based think tank, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), recently released an analysis titled “Lasting Security for Ukraine” ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius.
The report outlines a series of concrete steps that could lead to Ukraine’s eventual NATO membership. The suggested approach involves coordinated efforts among the EU, NATO, the G7, and more than 50 nations supporting Ukraine, through a “pact for security, reconstruction, and peace.”
Germany’s Vital Role:
The SWP report emphasizes Germany’s central role in Ukraine’s NATO ambitions. Germany possesses significant financial resources, military equipment, and crucial political influence.
Margarete Klein, co-author of the report, highlights Germany’s importance in terms of supporting Ukraine’s security in the long term. The report identifies three options: disarmament of Russia (unlikely), Ukraine’s nuclear rearmament (undesirable), or Ukraine’s membership in NATO.
Ukrainian Expectations and Western Support:
Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, has expressed Ukraine’s expectation of receiving an invitation for simplified accession to NATO at the Vilnius summit.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been actively seeking support for Ukraine’s NATO membership, securing approval from governments of Baltic states, Poland, and others. The SWP plan emphasizes the need for steady and long-term financing of arms deliveries and the development of Ukraine’s defense industry to integrate the country into the Western military structure.
Germany’s Defense Leadership:
Germany’s central role in Ukraine’s defense and armaments industry is highlighted by the SWP. The report envisions Germany becoming Europe’s central defense and armaments nation in the coming years, underscoring its importance in the region’s security landscape.
Notably, Germany’s commitment to meeting NATO defense expenditure targets, as reflected in the federal budget for 2024, demonstrates the country’s dedication to NATO’s collective defense.
Germany’s growing political weight within NATO and its potential to shape Ukraine’s path to NATO membership have positioned it as a key player in the region. As Ukraine seeks Western support for its aspirations, Germany’s financial resources, military equipment, and political clout are vital in ensuring Ukraine’s long-term security.
The upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius holds significant importance in determining Ukraine’s progress towards NATO membership, with Germany playing a pivotal role in this transformative process.