What the Russian papers say
20:00 | 27/ 11/ 2008
MOSCOW, November 27 (RIA Novosti)
NATO searches for way to accelerate Ukraine and Georgia's accession/ Ukraine to redeploy its troops to Russian borders/EU not ready for expansion to post-Soviet countries/Russia tests new intercontinental ballistic missile
NATO searches for way to accelerate Ukraine and Georgia's accession
Georgia and Ukraine yesterday discussed the latest statements by U.S. officials who said the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) was not necessary to gain accession to the alliance.
However, Washington has not disclosed the meaning of the phrase "other instruments" that could be used to become a bloc member.
The newspaper's source at the NATO headquarters said: "The MAP is not the main principle of joining NATO. It is only an instrument helping aspirants to prepare for accession. The fundamental principle is the country's desire to become a NATO member and its compliance with the alliance's main requirements."
A source in Brussels said serious discussions on the issue were underway among NATO members.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai said: "The allies are discussing, literally right now, how to take forward NATO's relationship with these two countries."
Western media reported that the Bush administration is pushing for the two countries' admission to NATO before Barack Obama assumes office.
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, said the U.S. efforts were designed "to complicate the advance of the Obama administration."
He hopes the NATO foreign ministers, who are to meet in Brussels on December 2-3, "will take a decision in the interests of their countries and European security despite the appeals of [Condoleezza] Rice."
Georgia and Ukraine do not expect the meeting to reach a breakthrough decision.
Koba Liklikadze, a Georgian military expert, said: "The idea that the MAP is not crucial for accession was voiced not long ago. Everyone says the U.S. is lobbying for the possibility. But it also lobbied for including Ukraine and Georgia into the MAP at the Bucharest summit in April, yet failed to ensure a consensus on the issue."
Ukrainian analysts recall that the Bucharest summit decided Ukraine must comply with two requirements to be included in the MAP, i.e., ensure public support for NATO accession and unity of the country's political elite.
"Unfortunately, the problem remains," Ilko Kucheriv, a member of the expert council at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, said.
Ukraine to redeploy its troops to Russian borders
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has made two key decisions - to allow the movement of NATO troops across Ukrainian territory and to redeploy its troops to Ukraine's eastern borders, along which he had dug a ditch to a depth of 1.5 meters.
Defense Minister Yuri Yekhanurov explained the steps following the August conflict in South Ossetia and said plans for troop movement could be ready by the weekend.
Analysts believe the idea will remain on paper.
Ukrainian opposition deputies told Izvestia that Yushchenko is laying a trap for himself by provoking Moscow at a time when no price has been agreed for Russian gas to Ukraine.
The main reason why analysts doubt the president's plans are that Ukraine lacks the finances for such a massive redeployment.
The Ukrainian Russian-language newspaper Delo says that armed forces budget for next year will be cut from 17 billion hryvnas to 12 billion to 15 billion hryvnas, with inflation factored out.
"The money is not and will not be available. It will be good if they have enough to pay the miners, teachers and service personnel," Vladimir Kornilov, director of the Ukrainian branch of the Institute of the CIS Countries, told Gazeta.ru.
In addition, the analyst said a decision to station military units is the prerogative of local administration. "Local councils in the eastern regions are unlikely to harbor anti-Russian attitudes," he added.
The actual redeployment began last year when missile systems were moved from southwestern to eastern regions. However, regardless of whether or not these plans get off the ground, the topic will still feature in public statements. "President Yushchenko has opted for anti-Russian rhetoric for his election campaign, because it would have been strange to expect anything else from him," Kornilov said.
"This is more a demonstration of readiness for the benefit of the West and it is too early to talk about any real redeployment," said Vitaly Tsymbal, a military analyst with the Institute of the Economy in Transition.
He believes grandiose public statements by Ukrainian politicians are anticipating the day when Ukraine will get an answer to its question on whether it will be allowed to go through the Membership Action Plan, or will be invited to join NATO right away.
Such steps are designed to demonstrate that Ukraine has set its sights on NATO and Europe and so is not very friendly with Russia, Kornilov agreed.
"This is no more than a gesture," said Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the military forecasting center at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis. "Actually, no one really believes the Ukrainian army is ready for a military engagement with the Russians."