NATO sees itself as a defensive alliance, so its members are expected to benefit from banding together and deterring attacks.
No doubt Ukraine would greatly benefit from membership in its recurring disputes with Russia.
However, besides principles like we stand up for freedom and democracy, have any Western leaders articulated what the existing NATO members gain?
Part of this process was somewhat started in 2008, as a result of a compromise between the US and European countries where it was penciled in at a deliberately indeterminate future.
NATO, can, and should, assist Ukraine in maintaining its territorial sovereignty. Deliberately taking on the responsibility of automatically being drawn into a shooting war should it happen, however is another thing.
For reference, this is what the UK Defense Secretary had to say recently, implying that NATO troops would have had to be committed if Ukraine was part of NATO.
In an interview with the Spectator, Mr Wallace said Ukraine was "not a member of Nato, so it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to send troops into Ukraine to challenge Russia".
Have any Western or NATO officials explained the rationale for an eventual accession?
NATO's secretary general has said:
Asked in Riga about Putin’s statements and Ukraine’s potential future membership, Stoltenberg said Ukraine’s membership in NATO will be decided by its 30 members, provided that this country meets the relevant criteria, including reform of institutions and the fight against corruption.
“Russia has no veto. Russia has no say. And Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence, trying to control their neighbours,”
Stating that it is not Russia's right to veto someone else's decision is indeed correct. But that is not the same thing as showing a compelling reason for NATO to take on this responsibility.
Russia, for all its often fraught relations with its neighbors, does have valid security concerns about NATO showing up on its doorstep (the Baltics are so small that they have limited strategic depth as a NATO base). Even if its current demands are maximalist and given in a context where few NATO countries trust Russia.
And if you want to look at how well-intentioned defensive alliances can end up triggering wars, you need look no further than the start of WW1 where basically everyone was committed to one of two alliance blocs and things quickly escalated from a minor incident.
To look at things from the Russian perspective, how would say the US feel if Mexico got into a defense pact with China? Too speculative you say? Well, then look at the US's concerns about Cuba during the Cold War.
So, where's the beef? Have any senior leaders or officials communicated what NATO ( the US, Canada and its European constituents) gain from taking on Ukraine? As opposed to say merely assisting Ukraine in acquiring defensive weapons and drawing a line in the sand with regards to economic sanctions. Which is... where we are at right now.
It seems like that level of foreign policy commitment would need extensive justification of the pros and cons to the electorate of the countries taking on that role. Not just platitudes about democracy. Has this taken place?
To be clear: I am not looking for military reasons that could motivate admitting Ukraine, I am looking for leaders and senior officials, speaking in an official capacity, making statements about those reasons on the record.
(FWIW it seems to me that admission is unlikely in the future, the same way Turkey's request to join the EU was held in permanent limbo, before Erdogan made it unpalatable to everyone else. But like with Turkey, no one's quite willing to call a cat a cat)