Arendal (High North News): However, the Director of the Private Office of NATO, Stian Jenssen, and Professor of international politics, Janne Haaland Matlary, believe a NATO membership may come at the expense of parts of Ukraine's territory.
As Finland and soon Sweden are joining the alliance – Turkey said in July that the country would ratify Sweden's membership of NATO during the fall – NATO is stronger than ever.
"Together we represent 50 percent of the world's military power and GNP," says Stian Jenssen, the Director of the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.
He participated in a debate about NATO during the Arendal Week in Norway, hosted by the Norwegian Atlantic Committee.
Jenssen refutes theories in which Russia is greatly weakened by the warfare in Ukraine. However, he believes that the war will be long.
"We must be prepared for this to last a long time. There is no political solution in sight, and Russia has gone to war with the aim of eradicating Ukraine as a state. They have resources and will wage a long-term war as long as there is political stability in Moscow, believes the director.
The relationship will still be full of conflict.
Despite the West having blanketed Russia with sanctions, the Russian economy is set to recover because Putin is adapting.
"Even if the war were to miraculously end tomorrow, it would not change our relationship with Russia because they have chosen a political path that NATO does not support. The relationship will still be full of conflict."
Ukraine in NATO
Now, it has also been made clear that Ukraine is moving towards a possible NATO membership as soon as the war is over.
"There is considerable movement in the matter of Ukrainian NATO membership, and I believe more and more people realize that when the war ends one day, Ukraine must be given some form of security guarantee so that this will not happen again," says Jenssen.
This summer, Norwegian newspaper VG wrote that Ukraine received a statement from the NATO leaders saying that an invitation will come "when the allied countries have agreed and the conditions are met."
"We cannot get into a situation with a ceasefire or standstill in hostilities, only for Russia to return after just a few months or years. We must solve this problem once and for all," believes Stian Jenssen.
Roadmap to the alliance
He is supported by Senior Researcher Karsten Friis at the Norwegian Institute of Foreign Affairs (NUPI), who believes that the most important thing the West can do for Ukraine at the moment is to give them a clear roadmap to membership.
Already in 2007, seven years before Russia invaded Crimea, Ukraine was in talks with NATO. Friis believes that more should have been done back then to follow up.
"Some people believe, and the argument is good, that what we said in 2007 about Georgia and Ukraine as NATO members is the reason Russia attacked because the countries landed in a grey zone in which there was a "threat" of membership without NATO being able to support them in any way," says Friis, who believes that a clear message of Ukrainian membership will be a strong signal to Russia.
"There is no future for Ukraine or Europe without Ukraine being a member of the EU or NATO," says Friis, who also participated in the debate.
But the question is what remains of Ukrainian territory after the dust of the war has settled.
"There is broad agreement within NATO about Ukraine's future as a NATO member. We just need to know what this looks like the day the war ends. But it is in everyone's interest to ensure that this does not happen again," says Stian Jenssen.
Janne Haaland Matlary, Professor of international politics at the University of Oslo and Professor at the Norwegian Defence Command and Staff College (NDCSC), believes that it is way too soon to talk about Ukrainian NATO membership.
"Because there is more than Ukraine at stake. It will be the military power on the ground that decides what happens after and not international diplomacy or politics. The outcome of the war decides," says Matlary, referring to a possible Russian victory.
It is not certain that there will be a negotiated solution to the war.
"Promising membership without basing it in realism in which Ukraine must strengthen the alliance militarily and not vice versa. If Ukraine meets NATO's demands, then that is a different matter. But realpolitik says we cannot take them in," concludes Matlary.
Countries against membership
However, Jenssen believes there may be other solutions for Ukraine.
"There has been talk about the Ukrainians giving up their ambition to the West and accepting some neutrality. I believe that a more probable solution is that Ukraine gives up territory and receives NATO membership in return," believes Stian Jenssen, and says that it is, of course, up to the Ukrainians to set the terms of the negotiations.
He does not, however, believe that Russia is capable of taking new large land areas in Ukraine.
"Now, it is rather a question of what the Ukrainians can take back. Because Ukraine as a state is lost to Russia," Jenssen adds, saying that we must think about what the situation looks like when the war is over and that NATO has discussed the issues.
"Because things will happen quickly."
Afterward, Ukraine reacted strongly to Jenssen's statement, and the director has come out and apologized that the statement "came out wrong" and that it is, of course, up to Ukraine to decide the terms for peace.
Janne Haaland Matlary stands behind the scenario of new borders.
"It is not certain that there will be a negotiated solution to the war. It may become a frozen conflict that lies there versus a negotiated solution in which one must change the borders to Ukraine. And there is a certain precedent for taking in countries with new borders that are not even the result of negotiations, but more of an understanding with Russia."
She still believes it boils down to whether Ukraine can bring more security to NATO.
"Because it is a defense alliance meant to bring security to its member countries," concludes the professor.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.