Any unofficial peace deal will likely see Ukraine remaining under the bloc’s wing as a de facto protectorate, but no members have the wherewithal to risk a direct war with Russia over that country, ergo its formal exclusion from NATO.
Rada member Alexey Goncharenko lamented on Telegram earlier this week that “there will be no NATO” for Ukraine, adding that the US is allegedly so annoyed with the issue that Blinken was rumored to have told his European counterparts to stop bringing it up. In response to this development, he wrote that Zelensky is now focusing solely on EU membership. His dramatic post came as the conflict finally began winding down in parallel with the worsening of political tensions between Zelensky and his rivals.
Goncharenko’s claim shouldn’t be surprising, however, since the conspicuous omission of any mutual defense obligations from the EU’s reported draft security guarantees to Ukraine last month suggested that the issue is informally closed. This summer’s decision to remove Ukraine’s Membership Action Plan requirement during the NATO Summit was nothing but a distraction to divert attention away from America’s growing realization that NATO enlargement in this context is actually a threat to its interests.
Russia successfully defended itself from the Hybrid War that’s been waged against it by NATO and that bloc’s several dozen other partners from February 2022 onwards, in large part due to its massive advantage in the “race of logistics”/“war of attrition” as well as its robust economic foundations. These combined to doom summer’s counteroffensive, which the Washington Post published a two–part post-mortem about earlier this week that concluded that the whole thing was wracked by miscalculations.
The end result is that the West’s reserves are depleted, its entire military strategy was discredited, and there’s accordingly no longer any appetite to indefinitely fund this proxy war. To the contrary, the contours of an unofficial peace deal are beginning to emerge, particularly with regards to Ukraine’s relationship with NATO. It’ll remain under that bloc’s wing as a de facto protectorate, but no members have the wherewithal to risk a direct war with Russia over that country, ergo its exclusion from NATO.
This outcome will predictably cost Zelensky even more political support than he’s already started to lose over the past month to his long-running rival Zaluzhny after his top parliamentary ally Arakhamia recently admitted that formal military neutrality was almost agreed to in March 2022. The Ukrainian leader walked away from Russia’s pragmatic peace deal, however, after being assured of Western support ‘for as long as it takes’ if he kept fighting in pursuit of his country’s NATO membership ambitions.
It’s now known that he was led by the nose in order to exploit Ukraine as their Hybrid War proxy for degrading Russia’s military capabilities, though the West’s grand strategic goal failed and it turns out that they’re now no longer interested in making good on their implied deal with that former Soviet Republic. Just like NATO lied to Russia that it wouldn’t expand eastward, so too did it ironically lie to Ukraine that it would indeed expand into that country, all in order to manipulate both nations for different ends.
An estimated several hundred thousand Ukrainian troops, many of them forcibly conscripted into their armed forces, died between spring 2022 and now. If the conflict freezes without Ukraine soon thereafter officially joining NATO, then it can be said that they literally died for nothing. Suffice to say, the public will be furious and certainly take their anger out on Zelensky whenever he finally decides to hold elections, or they might fully back one of his rivals’ power plays that could be attempted against him before then.