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NATO urges Ukraine to make more progress in the fight against corruption as a prerequisite for membership

According to Defense Department sources cited by 'The Telegraph,' Zelensky's government's candidacy will be re-evaluated at the next meeting of NATO officials. 

Funcionarios izan la bandera nacional sueca en un mástil durante una ceremonia de izado de la bandera para la adhesión de Suecia a la OTAN en la sede de la Alianza del Atlántico Norte en Bruselas, el 11 de marzo de 2024.

NATO headquartersAFP

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The Ukrainian state is too vulnerable to corruption to join NATO. This is one of the main reasons that NATO leaders will cite at the next meeting in Washington D.C. to justify delaying its membership. 

According to Department of Defense (DOD) sources consulted by The Telegraph, Ukraine will need to make progress on fighting corruption in order to be accepted into NATO. 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky's government and its Western allies have suggested Ukraine's potential membership in NATO. The move, which has been perceived as a strategic maneuver against Russia, served as a deterrent due to the implications it would have.

The Telegraph's source reportedly said, "As they continue to make those reforms, we want to commend them, we want to talk about the additional steps that need to be taken, especially in the area of anti-corruption. It's a priority for many of us." NATO will hold its summit next July 9 and will issue a statement on the matter afterward.

Deterrence is protection

Zelensky believes Ukraine's entry into NATO as crucial for the country's security. He feels that membership in the alliance, after a potential end to the war, would provide strong guarantees against future Russian invasions. 

Article 5 of NATO's founding treaty stipulates that an attack on one member nation is considered an attack on all member countries. This principle legitimizes collective NATO intervention in response to such aggression. 

According to sources from the Pentagon, this condition persists despite some efforts by Kiev to reduce corruption in its armed forces. Corruption has been a nearly endemic issue in the Ukrainian military since the Soviet Union's dissolution and the subsequent division of Soviet arsenals. 

Significant anti-corruption reforms in the Ukrainian government began after the 2014 crisis, during which pro-Russian and Kremlin-backed paramilitary groups seized control of Ukraine's eastern regions and the Crimean Peninsula. At that time, the Ukrainian armed forces had a serious corruption problem, along with inadequate training and poor equipment.

However, significant defense investments made after the 2013 crisis and especially since the 2022 invasion have led to new corruption cases. Last January, Kiev announced the dismantling of a corruption scheme that cost over $250 million.

That month, the Defense Ministry uncovered financial infractions spanning the previous four months. This led to the arrest of several senior defense officials and the resignation of others, including former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.