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DOCTOR ZIMA: "SINCE THIS CONFLICT, NATO'S ROLE HAS BEEN OVERVALUED".

Amélie Zima is a researcher at the Strategic Research Institute at the École Militaire, specialising in NATO and European security. Her talk analyses NATO "between re-legitimisation through enlargement and the failure of partnerships".

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is at the centre of the conflict, which pits two countries with partnership programmes with it against each other on its eastern flank, on the borders of several of its member states, and one of them, Russia, places it at the heart of a "false narrative".

Ukraine's membership of NATO is presented as one of the reasons why Russia invaded its neighbour. For Amélie Zima, this is "a completely erroneous idea. NATO never included Ukraine in its pre-accession programme. The Ukrainians thought they would be included in this pre-accession strategy in 2008, at the NATO Bucharest summit, but this was refused. It hasn't been on the table since". The Russian partnership, launched in 1997 to help "build a more stable, peaceful and undivided Europe", has been violated by Russia on three occasions, according to NATO (Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014 and in 2022).

Another Russian falsehood concerns NATO's alleged "promise" never to enlarge. "NATO never made that promise", the researcher points out. There were oral discussions in the 1990s, but oral discussions are not binding on an organisation.

As a defensive organisation for its member states, NATO cannot undertake armed intervention in a third country, such as Ukraine, without the approval of the UN Security Council. "This explains why NATO was unable to respond positively to requests from the Ukrainian government to set up a no-fly zone at the start of the conflict. If NATO were to do so without a mandate from the UN Security Council, it would become a party to the conflict."

"Since this conflict, NATO's role has been overvalued", especially in comparison with that of the European Union, which is generous with its funding. But the Alliance's legitimacy has been strengthened by the membership applications from two neutral countries, Sweden and Finland.