Transformation of the NATO Partnership Concept in the Post-Soviet Space: Is Membership the Only Option?

By thinking that Europe is “finished business” NATO almost lost the feeling of importance and sense of partnership on its immediate borders.

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For the last several years, NATO has mostly being concentrated on securitychallenges emerging from the Middle East and Afghanistan along with the searchfor new partnerships, including the African Union and Brazil.
Hanna Shelest for “NEWCOMERS NO MORE? Contemporary NATO and the Future of the enlargement from the Perspective of “Post-Cold War” Members”
By thinking that Europe is “finished business” and postponing the enlargement process for the remaining states in the post-Soviet space after the Bucharest Summit 2008, it al-most lost the feeling of importance and sense of partnership on its immediate borders. As a de facto consequence, NATO perceived its relations with the post-Sovietspace only through the prism of the possible future membership or potentialinvolvement of the states in its operations (Kosovo, Afghanistan, anti-piracy, etc.).However, the Ukrainian crisis of 2014 brought to the agenda the question of NATO’s ability to react in such crises and to assist its partners in spheres other
than security sector reform. In terms of its current priorities of collective defence,crisis management and cooperative security – NATO member-states de facto con-firmed adherence only to the collective defence principle for its own members,as numerous statements were made that Alliance was not able to help Ukrainebecause the latter is not a member.
 When the partner countries need assistance when facing a security crisis, NATO does not have mechanisms and sometimesthe goodwill to assist.Nevertheless, the Crimean crisis of 2014 has “inspired” not only Ukraine and Georgia (seeking membership) but also pro-Russian Armenia and neutral Moldovato look for closer cooperation with NATO to guarantee their national security andmilitary transformation. Still, NATO needs to explain to its partners around the world why partnership is necessary and what added value it can bring if more secu-rity is not guaranteed. The main goal of the article is to analyse how the Ukrainian crisis has influenced NATO’s partnership framework, future membership perspectives and visions of the post-Soviet space and to answer the question as to whether NATOis ready for the transformation of its views towards the region, and possible mech-anisms of cooperation and security guarantees