22:46 GMT +318 August 2019
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    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland. file photo

    Wishful Thinking: Why Poroshenko Wants to Hold Referendum on NATO Membership

    © Photo : President of the Ukraine Press-Service
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    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's recent pledge to hold a referendum on his country's accession to NATO is not as far-fetched as it may seem; the move has clear-cut electoral purposes, according to RIA Novosti political analyst Zakhar Vinogradov.

    Last week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed to fulfill his plans to hold a referendum in his country on the issue of Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

    According to the Ukrainian leader, four years ago NATO membership was supported by 16 percent of the Ukrainian population, while currently the figure stands at 54 percent.

    "If the Ukrainians vote yes, I will make every effort to achieve North Atlantic alliance membership," Poroshenko said in an interview with the German Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.

    In December 2014, Ukraine canceled its non-aligned status, confirming its intention to join NATO. Poroshenko said a referendum on NATO membership would be held by 2020, after all NATO requirements have been met.

    In this vein, RIA Novosti political analyst Zakhar Vinogradov quoted former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying that it will take Kiev plenty of time to achieve the criteria for joining the alliance. Experts went even further by saying that it would take until at least 2037 for Ukraine to implement all the required criteria for joining.

    Meanwhile, NATO's press service said that Ukraine has yet to submit its NATO bid and that after Kiev does so, Brussels "will evaluate its readiness to join the alliance."

    According to Vinogradov, although President Poroshenko knows full well that Ukraine's accession to NATO will not take place during his presidency, he decided to hold a relevant referendum in order to get the population's support amid the ongoing crisis in the Ukrainian parliament and the diminishing clout of his party, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. 

    "So it turns out that by holding a referendum that's pointless in terms of achieving its stated goal, Poroshenko intends to get a kind of vote of confidence from the [Ukrainian] population," Vinogradov said, referring to the 54 percent of Ukrainians who allegedly support Ukraine's NATO bid and who may support the embattled President.

    According to Vinogradov, it is safe to assume that the referendum is not a goal but a tool for obtaining public support, which will again allow Poroshenko to talk about "the unity of the party and the people."

    "And this slogan will be something that will allow Poroshenko to prepare to run for a second term," Vinogradov concluded.

    Earlier, political analyst Andrei Kortunov told Sputnik that he doubts that Ukraine will join NATO any time soon.

    "It makes no sense talking about Ukraine in NATO now that NATO leadership insists that Kiev should go ahead with reforms and modernization and only then apply for membership," Kortunov said.

    He added that even if the majority of Ukrainians voted for NATO membership, this would have little effect because the alliance has no desire to take responsibility for Ukraine.

    "NATO has a geopolitical interest in bringing aboard countries that would enhance its security and defense potential. Besides, new members should not create additional problems for the present members. Ukraine meets neither of these conditions," Kortunov noted.

    He added that if Brussels eventually agrees to let Ukraine in, it can do this without committing itself to defending the country.

    "No one is going to fight for Ukraine, that's why NATO can work with it, it can offer promises, but will never take it in,” Kortunov concluded.

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    alliance, support, referendum, reforms, membership, accession, NATO, Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine
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