Debunking Russian Propaganda: Ukraine and NATO
When it comes to Kremlin propaganda, NATO is among some of the more popular topics. Russian media outlets portray the military alliance as an aggressive organization and claim that countries which have joined, lose their sovereignty
NATO is an aggressive imperialist bloc. Instead, neutrality is what can guarantee the security of Ukraine. These are very common myths about NATO and Ukraine spread by Russian propaganda. Let’s hear the facts.
“Well, firstly there are different options for a country to choose its security arrangements. One of them might be neutrality — it’s for a country to decide. But neutrality doesn’t necessarily mean security,” Director of the NATO Information and Documentation Center in Ukraine Barbora Maronkova said.
It’s impossible to impose NATO membership onto a country. On the contrary, to join the Alliance a country is required to carry out extensive reforms switching its entire defense sector to NATO standards. NATO’s reason for being — is collective defense, not aggressive expansion.
“NATO is a collective defense organization. For us, collective defense means basic ourselves on Article 5 of our founding treaty, the Washington Treaty. And Article 5 very clearly stipulates that an attack on one ally is an attack on all. So, if a country decides to become a member of NATO, they do so in committing themselves to help and protect each other and to protect the alliance,” Maronkova said.
29 countries joined the Alliance in its 70 years of existence. Article 13 of the Warsaw Pact allows member states to unilaterally leave NATO if they wish to, but not a single one has chosen to exit the organization.
“NATO has a so-called “open door” policy. This is a policy of our enlargement. Since the founding treaty of 1949. The treaty stipulates in Article 10, that every European country can join NATO and become a member of NATO if it is in a position to contribute to our security and prosperity of the Euro Atlantic area,” Maronkova said.
Another popular myth is that by becoming a NATO member state Ukraine would give up its sovereignty and that the whole country becomes something like a military base for NATO. This myth is refuted by the very status of the Alliance — it is an international organization that has no authority over policies of its sovereign member states.
“Every member state follows its own national legislation, which allows it, for example, to send more troops abroad to support NATO operations. Just as you would do the UN peacekeeping missions or any other international organization. When it comes to military bases, NATO has military bases on its own territory of its member states. Even for that, we do require the consent of the member state to station NATO equipment and NATO soldiers on its territories. Outside of NATO territory, our military bases are only there, where we have an active military operation or a mission. For example, Kosovo or Afghanistan,” Maronkova said.
Another myth is that the Ukrainian military will be used as ‘cannon fodder’ in NATO’s missions.
The fact is that every member of the alliance is within rights to decide for themselves whether to participate in each given military operation. On top of that, decisions of this kind are put to vote and cannot be passed without the unanimous support of all member states.
“What we do is, in case we do have a military operation – we ask our member states for contributions to these military operations and it’s up to each and every member state whether or not, how many and what formations they will contribute to our military operations and missions according to their own military legislation and democratic approvals within their country. No other NATO ally can ask another member state to send or deploy their troops,” Maronkova said.
The myth that Ukraine would go bust by having to allocate an inordinate amount of money from its budget to fund participation in the Alliance is very easy to refute.
“From NATO’s perspective, the ideal expenditure for defense is two percent of the overall GDP. We provide regularly on the NATO website an overview of how much each member state has been spending on the defense. And in fact, we have to say, the majority of member states actually contribute less than two percent of the GDP,” Maronkova said.
For 2019 the Ukrainian government allocated around 8 billion dollars for defense, which equates to not 2, but 5 percent of its overall GDP.
Any myths about NATO can be busted by simply reading the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949. Another document that Russian propagandists DON’T want you to read is the 1997 “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation, and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation.”