Serhii Plokhy accurately points out in his piece “The empire returns” that President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that Ukraine be prevented from Nato is the current version of a Russian policy that dates back to the Soviet Union’s disintegration in 1991.
Nato leaders have stated correctly that they are committed to resolving Russia’s security vulnerabilities, but then assert that Russia has no significant security anxieties because Nato is a defensive military alliance. Regardless of wether we want it or not, a Nato that now neighbours Russia and may soon border much more of Russia is considered as a security threat by Russia.
“Internationally, [Ukraine] should seek a position analogous to that of Finland,” Henry Kissinger stated in the Washington Post in 2014. That country declares its staunch independence, cooperates with the Western throughout many domains, but it has to avoids systemic enmity against Russia.”
It would be absurd to expect Ukraine to become permanently “Finlandized.” However, Nato should be able to put up precise recommendations for negotiating a new treaty with Russia that does not breed institutional animosity, in close collaboration with Ukraine. This would include a verifiable removal of nuclear-capable missiles, comprehensive strategic trust measures such as regulating numbers and delimitation deployment, and international agreement on Russia’s and Ukraine’s currently contentious borders.