No Widgets found in the Sidebar


The geopolitical dynamics compel NATO members to support politically, diplomatically, financially, and materially Ukrainians in self-defense against Russia. However, they are afraid of the escalation of the ongoing protracted asymmetrical warfare in Ukraine, having the potential to spread to the neighboring countries. Therefore, they have been following a cautious strategy to keep the conflict localized rather than spiraaling into a transnational Euro-Atlantic area.      

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022, the Americans and Europeans have observed a restrained approach in providing military hardware or non-lethal assistance through the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) to Ukraine. Nevertheless, “since the Madrid Summit, Allies and partners have committed over 500 million Euros to the CAP.”

The NATO members encouraged Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance but refrained from offering similar opportunities to Ukraine. Notably, the leaders of the 31 member states agreed to include Ukraine in a military alliance during the recent summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Vilnius Summit Communiqué issued on July 11, 2023, stated, “Ukraine’s future is in NATO.

We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognize that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan.” It announced, “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.” Realistically, the invitation seems shadowy.

The vague invitation disheartened Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president. While declaring the decision “absurd,” he said having “faith in partners” and wanted a strong NATO that “does not hesitate.” His earnest desire is that NATO directly partakes in the Russian-Ukrainian ongoing war, as it did in the case of the Kosovo war in 199899, the Afghanistan war in 2001-2021, and Libya in 2011.

NATO is hesitant to participate directly in the Ukrainian conflict due to the Russian conventional and nuclear-armed forces. On September 30, 2022, President Vladimir Putin raised the specter of nuclear use by claiming that the U.S. nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had created a precedent. Subsequently, President Joe Biden’s cautioning statements that his Russian counterpart is not bluffing when he talks about the potential use of nuclear weapons. NATO’s cautioned-cum-restrained strategy to assist the Ukrainians underscores the Russian nuclear threat’s efficacy.

Granting Ukraine full membership of NATO predictably escalates the conflict into the Euro-Atlantic area having a nuclear dimension. Russian modernized nuclear forces, including a large stockpile of theatre-range weapons, and expanded novel and disruptive dual-capable delivery systems terrified NATO’s members. Kremlin recently completed the deployed nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable systems on Belarusian territory.

Notably, the NATO 2022 Strategic Concept reveals that the members appreciated the alliance’s strategic nuclear forces in its security. NATO’s nuclear deterrence posture relies on the United States’ nuclear weapons forward deployed in Europe. Currently, the U.S. has 100 nuclear weapons deployed in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Turkey. Hence, the Russian and American nuclear threat needs to be taken seriously.

The Russians’ limited nuclear weapons use, even a tactical nuclear weapon on the battlefield, could swiftly escalate a local or regional conflict into a global one, provided the Americans dare to retaliate with nuclear weapons to defend Ukraine. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan assured European allies on September 25, 2023, that the U.S. and its allies would respond decisively to Russian nuclear weapons.

However, according to the United States nuclear doctrine, only the NATO members have the luxury of a nuclear umbrella. Hence, NATO refrained from granting alliance membership to Ukraine to avoid a broader NATO-Russia clash involving nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has struggled to improve its bilateral relations with Russia since the beginning of the twenty-first century. Simultaneously, Islamabad attached great importance to its relations with Ukraine. Therefore, Pakistan has espoused a neutral position in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. On July 20, 2023, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, visited Islamabad. Instead of condemning the Russian invasion, Pakistan’s Foreign Office offered to mediate between Russia and Ukraine to end the war.

To conclude, President Putin’s nuclear rhetoric or signaling deterred NATO’s forces’ participation in the ongoing asymmetrical warfare between Ukraine and Russia and thwarted Ukraine’s membership in the 31 nation’s military alliance.

Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is an Islamabad based analyst and Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations in Quaid-e-Azam University.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.