It would be great if those two countries could join up. Certainly Ukraine should be included - Georgia if possible.President Bush is not backing down from a NATO battle over putting the ex-Soviet states Ukraine and Georgia on the road toward membership in the military alliance. In a speech planned for Wednesday at a NATO summit, Bush intends to say that beginning the process would encourage the countries to stay on the path of democracy and let them know they would be welcomed into the institutions of Europe.
"It would send a signal throughout the region that these two nations are, and will remain, sovereign and independent states," according to parts of the speech released Tuesday by the White House.
Earlier, while in Ukraine's capital, Bush said Russia will not wield veto power over Ukraine's NATO aspirations, but countries such as France and Germany stand ready to block the former Soviet republic, fearful of further straining ties with Moscow. He told President Viktor Yushchenko the U.S. "strongly supports your request" and a similar effort by Georgia.
Russia is not a NATO member and holds no veto authority over the alliance's decisions. But all NATO actions require a consensus, meaning any one of the 26 nations can blackball a potential new member. Greece, for example, is threatening to block Macedonia's membership application because of a dispute over Macedonia's name.
Bush's purpose in Kiev appeared to be intended to congratulate Ukraine on its democratic reforms and promise that someday it will join NATO, created 59 years ago to confront the Soviet Union and its expansionist goals.
In a news conference at the presidential secretariat, Bush said it was a "misperception" that the United States might soften its push on behalf of Ukraine and Georgia if Russia were to ease opposition to Washington's plan for a missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic.
"There's no trade-offs. Period," Bush said, adding that is exactly what he told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a recent telephone call.
Bush and Putin, whose successor takes over in May, are to meet Sunday in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. White House officials have expressed hopes the leaders could end months of sharp disagreements and strike a deal.
As if to give a last reminder of Russia's wishes, Putin's deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, said Ukraine's accession to NATO would cause a "deep crisis" in relations with Ukraine and the West. Nevertheless, Bush said he would go to NATO carrying a banner of support for the Ukraine and Georgia.
I think Russia is being a bit immature - it can't threaten sovereign states just because they want to join an organisation. Russia would get on better with them if it stopped trying to control everything they do. Or maybe this goes to show that Russia still sees them as tributary states or something a la Soviet Union.