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Kiev ‘unlikely’ to get NATO-like protection from West – media

Western officials are uncertain that their governments will agree to give Ukraine legally binding security guarantees similar to NATO’s Article 5, sources told CNN. The US and its allies are not likely to do what Kiev wants them to, the news network reported on Friday.

Ukraine has agreed to renounce its constitutionally-enshrined aspiration to become a NATO member and said it now seeks a different kind of security arrangement in a proposal it delivered to the Russian delegation during peace talks in Istanbul this week.

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Under the proposal, Kiev would pledge not to host foreign military bases or troops on its territory. In return, leading world powers, including Russia, would make a legally binding pledge to defend Ukraine from future military attacks. Moscow said the very fact that Kiev made a written proposal on how it wants to resolve the conflict was positive, but refrained so far from committing to any part of it.

It is “unlikely” CNN said, that “the US and its allies will ultimately offer Ukraine the kinds of legally binding protections it is requesting.” Meanwhile, “anything short of full commitment to defend Ukraine won’t be enough for the Ukrainians,” one Western official told the outlet.

Ukrainian officials complained that NATO’s open door policy did not translate into a clear path towards membership for their country and into allies using their troops to defend the country.

Russia drew a red line at NATO membership for Kiev as early as 2008, when the US-led bloc formally declared that Ukraine would one day join its ranks. Moscow said that the organization’s creeping expansion into Ukraine since the 2014 armed coup in Kiev, and its refusal to negotiate a peaceful reduction of the threat to Russia’s national security, were major reasons for launching the attack against its neighbor.

According to CNN’s sources, some Western nations believe that EU membership could serve as some sort of protection for Ukraine. “It would be difficult for Russia to attack an EU member country,” one European official was quoted as saying. “Because that automatically could involve much more support for that country.”

Ukraine’s backers publicly state that they are doing everything they can to help it now without risking an escalation of the conflict into a world war.

Kiev’s proposals handed to Moscow in Istanbul include a demand that Moscow formally declare a lack of opposition to its EU membership. Ukraine applied for a rapid accession to the economic union after Russia launched its attack in February, but didn’t receive any timetable for joining.

The EU official quoted by CNN said Western nations will not discuss Kiev’s request for NATO-like protection in earnest until they are certain that it would be accepted by Moscow in the first place.

Russia must “demonstrate that it is serious about retreating and commit to allowing Ukraine to maintain a robust military,” an unnamed European official told the outlet, adding that this would de facto require Moscow to renounce its stated goal of demilitarizing Ukraine. According to CNN, he added that “Ukraine must first win the war and be given the support it needs to do so.”

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