Sunday, August 16, 2015

Two-Thirds of Ukrainians Want to Join NATO and Be Inside ‘Borders of Civilized World,’ Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 16 – Sixty-four percent of Ukrainians say they want to join the Western alliance, according to a new poll conducted by the Kucheriv Democratic Initiative and the Razumkov Center. And they want to, Vitaly Portnikov says, because its borders are today the borders of the civilized world that no aggressor would even think about attacking.

            In a comment for Radio Liberty today, the Ukrainian analyst says for many years, it seemed unthinkable that so many Ukrainians would make that choice. Sixty-four percent – almost two out of three – was a figure that “seemed unachievable” but now it is destined to rise even further (

            “The Russian invasion of Ukraine has destroyed all Soviet propaganda myths which for many years remained the chief discourse in relation to the majority of citizens of Ukraine about their own security,” Portnikov says.

            That is because, contrary to what Moscow had insisted, “It was not NATO that attacked Ukraine but ‘fraternal’ Russia. And it was not NATO that tried to ‘draw in’ Ukraine into its military operations but Ukrainians themselves who wanted that NATO countries get involved in a war which Russia is conducting.”

            “NATO has clearly shown,” Portnikov continues, “that it can guarantee the security of those who join it: an aggressor will not even think about violating the borders of the civilized world. But unfortunately, Ukrainians are still outside these borders.” Had they been within them in the past, the present would be very different.

            “Russian soldiers would have been sitting at home, and Crimea and the Donbas would have remained Ukrainian. And now over Sevastopol would fly not the flags of the traitors of Russia’s Black Sea fleet but the flags of the naval forces of Ukraine and of course, the flags of our allies from NATO countries who would have helped us defend the borders of the civilized world from Russian authoritarianism.”

            It is thus a positive development that 64 percent of Ukrainians want to join NATO; it will be even more positive when, as is now inevitable, that figure rises to 90 percent, Portnikov continues. But of course, that alone won’t be enough for Ukraine to be in a position to join the Western alliance.

            Ukrainians, the Ukrainian commentator argues, must “now resolve the problems of their own countries, secure its defensive capability and territorial integrity, and finally break all ties with Russia until the collapse of the criminal regime of that country and the recovery of its society.

            “But the fact that Ukrainians are beginning to think realistically is already half a success. The second half will be the willingness of NATO to take Ukraine into its ranks.  That is what [Ukrainians and their supporters] must struggle for.”

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