Ukraine Could Join NATO Without Russian-Occupied Territories, Suggests Former Secretary General

Ukraine Could Join NATO Without Russian-Occupied Territories, Suggests Former Secretary General
Source: NATO Flag. Pixabay 2012.


Anouk Reilly

Human Rights and Europe Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence 

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary general (SG), has made a proposition for Ukraine to join the alliance without the regions under Russian occupation. The ex-SG had been working in co-operation with an adviser to the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in the run-up to NATO’s final summit this year, which resulted in no former invitation for Ukraine to obtain membership to the alliance. 

Despite Ukraine’s bid for membership being unsuccessful this year, Ukraine’s membership is expected to be an important consideration in the next upcoming summit in summer 2024. Ukraine has received assurances through the establishment of an Ukraine-NATO council, instituted by a bilateral agreement, in which the alliance’s members will act to guarantee Ukraine’s security. Rasmussen has stated that his proposition for Ukraine’s partial membership would not symbolise a paralysation of the conflict but should be perceived as a mark of determination against Russia, signifying that Ukraine joining the military alliance cannot be obstructed. Furthermore, Rasmussen has insisted on the importance of Ukraine receiving NATO membership, stating: “We need a new European security architecture in which Ukraine is in the heart of NATO”. 

The alliance’s clause of collective self-defence, Article 5, outlines that all members are obligated to come to the defence of a member-State in conflict. If Ukraine, along with the Russian-occupied territories, were to join NATO, then NATO would be required to notify Russia that the alliance would be going to war them. However, Rasmussen argues that by the non-inclusion of these occupied territories, the chance of a NATO-Russia war would be significantly lower and would allow Ukraine to focus on the protection and reclamation of the occupied regions. 

This form of partial membership is not the first of its kind as in 1955, West Germany joined the alliance, with Article 5 covering the west of the State, but not the east. Rasmussen has announced that the members of the G7 and 25 other States were in the process of negotiating bilateral security agreements with Ukraine, as part of a wider agreement named the ‘Kyiv Security Compact’. This agreement has been established to be a bridge to NATO membership, overseeing the transfer of intelligence, weapons, and support to Ukraine’s defence production.  

Sources and Further Reading:

Wintour, P (2023), “Ex-Nato Chief Proposes Ukraine Joins Without Russian-Occupied Territories”. The Guardian. Retrieved on 11-11-2023, at: