Would the world be safer if Ukraine were let into Nato asap?

The military alliance's one for all and all for one philosophy would mean 31 countries instantly at war
Ivano-Frankivs'ka oblast, Ukraine. Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash

Britain has been toning down some of its let-Ukraine-into-Nato-asap rhetoric after US President Joe Biden came to London…and left right away.

(If you’re not up to speed on Mr Biden’s fleeting visits to the UK,  Macavity, the mystery cat, has nothing on him. In terms of Mr Biden’s visits to Britain as president, now you see him, now you don’t. Like Macavity, he just isn’t there…or not for very long. This time round, Mr Biden spent a whole night and a day [nearly a full one] in the UK, meeting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak [yet again; five times in as many months] as well as King Charles.)

On Monday night, the Biden flying visit took off from London for the Nato summit in Vilnius.

Ahead of the summit, some Nato member states, not least host Lithuania, pushed for Ukraine’s early entry into the military alliance. But others, including French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, counselled a more cautious approach.

As well they might. The let-Ukraine-in-asap argument always seemed a bit odd. As Mr Biden pointed out before flitting in and out of Britain en route to Lithuania , it’s not feasible to take Ukraine into Nato while it is still fighting a war. After all, the 31-member Nato alliance works to the Three Musketeers’ philosophy – one for all and all for one. It is patently obvious that with Russia occupying a swath of Ukrainian territory and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky vowing to recover every last inch, including Crimea, early Ukrainian membership of Nato would mean 31 countries are at war with Russia almost instantly.

What would be the point of that?

How about security guarantees instead? There is a suggestion that Ukraine will be offered of “Israel-style” security pledges. Dubbed ‘Nato-lite’, they seem a viable alternative.

Ms von der Leyen called it in May when she suggested that  “bundling” major bilateral security assurances between key nations and Ukraine would be a more effective security strategy and deterrent to Russia for now.

The question is what would make the world safer right now: Ukraine inside Nato or inching closer?