Master of International Relations, Executive Director of the Centre for Global Studies ‘Strategy XXI’
Abstract. Ukraine’s constitutionally enshrined goal to become a NATO member encourages the state to more intensively explore and utilise the experience of the countries that have recently joined the Alliance, i.e. the countries of the Western Balkans. Their NATO integration comes amid relatively recent independence, resolution of post-war problems, and countering Russia’s influence in the region. This issue is similar for Ukraine, and therefore the article is devoted to studying the attitude and requirements of NATO to new candidate countries and a comparative analysis of the key features of Euro-Atlantic integration in the Western Balkans and mechanisms to counter them employed by Russia.
The stability of the Western Balkans is seen by the Alliance as one of the key factors in Euro-Atlantic security, and NATO has made a political decision on the membership of the states of the region, some of which – Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia – have already achieved this goal. NATO is not reducing its focus on the region, as Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a candidate country. The Alliance is also developing an in-depth partnership with Serbia to transform the region into an area of peace, security, and stability.
Russia’s priority goal is to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, as this will mean the final withdrawal of our country from the sphere of Russian influence. Meanwhile, Moscow will continue its anti-Alliance activities in the Western Balkans, pursuing a dual goal of diverting NATO’s attention from Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and maintaining and strengthening its influence in the region.
The conclusions made in the article can be used to further develop Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO, prepare the country for membership in the Alliance and in the process of writing annual national programmes and planning activities for their implementation.
Keywords: Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, Western Balkans, NATO, Russian Federation.
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