Since the beginning of April, Germany has become a rather less popular country in Ukraine's capital Kyiv and Western provinces. Patriotic Ukrainian elites are mostly right in their evaluation of the effects of recent German foreign policies. At the summit in Bucharest in early April, it was not the least Germany's refusal to immediately invite Ukraine to NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP) that led to the postponement of the issue to NATO's next large meeting later this year.
Today, Germany's stand on Ukraine's current MAP participation is less related to any particular pro-Russianness. Instead, it seems driven by another - eventually, more rational - assessment of the implications that a NATO offer for Ukrainian participation in MAP would have. As is all too well-known, the majority of Ukraine's population is still against NATO membership. The figures for February 2008 were 53% against and 21% in favour. There continue to be far too many reservations about NATO among ordinary Ukrainians to start serious "membership action". Most probably, a NATO offer now would thus have had the immediate effect of mobilizing Ukrainian anti-NATO forces, and their utilization of widely spread anti-Western stereotypes - with unknown consequences. A current MAP participation by Ukraine would thus, probably, do more harm to Western-Ukrainian relations than bring Kyiv any closer to NATO. In view of the dim prospects of any serious talk about Ukraine's entry into NATO in the foreseeable future, there is currently little reason to get into a fight with the Russians.
To be sure, such a fight would be fine and well, if a majority of the country's population were in favour of NATO membership (and might be thus, in that regard, justified concerning Georgia where this is, apparently, the case). But, at this point in time, the question is: What are we going to fight for with Moscow, as regards Ukraine? If the Ukrainians themselves do not (yet) want into NATO: What is all the fuss about? Moreover, the Russians would and, in fact, already do pretend that they are not only defending their own interests, but those of the majority of Ukrainians. Given recent Ukrainian polling data, this claim cannot be easily dismissed.
The main culprit in this story seems to be not Germany, but NATO itself. It has done too little too late in terms of explaining to Ukrainians what NATO is about. Instead, Ukraine's political and public discourse remains corrupted by Soviet legacies. It is shaped by Russian government-controlled mass media and the bizarre conspirological political publicism that dominates Russian and Ukrainian book markets today.
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