Therefore, the issue of the new role of the Alliance in ensuring security of the Euro-Atlantic area is high on the agenda. Shaping up of the new Euro-Atlantic architecture of security in the future is most likely to be realised through enhancing its basic structures, such as:
o further NATO enlargement to the east;
o deepening of co-operative relations between the NATO and the EU in the area of security;
o involvement of Russia in the process of strengthening stability and peace in Europe;
o the economic and political development of the post-Soviet area. The influence by the USA and western european countries.
Further NATO enlargement to the east is an important component of the new architecture of the Euro-Atlantic security. The second wave of accession to the Alliance has meant the extension of the NATO main zone of responsibility in Europe. The accession of Slovakia and Slovenia meant filling in the "gaps" that existed within the zone. However, the main problems may occur not inside the zone but on its periphery, on the frontline of its enlargement. Under these conditions, Ukraine is becoming a key factor, which will determine the further enlargement of the Alliance. Ukraine has borders with Romania and Slovakia, the two new NATO member-countries. In this connection, the challenges and risks that may pose a certain
threat to all the structures of the Euro-Atlantic security should be taken into account. The possible risks include the following, namely:
1. The EU transformation into an independent geopolitical power in Europe and weakening of the Euro-Atlantic links between the USA and western European countries.
2. Restoration of the authoritarian regime in Russia accompanied by the return to the policy of geopolitical revenge.
Based on the assumption that risks will persist throughout the next decade it is possible to forecast that the most plausible scenario of the situation around Ukraine following the second wave of accession to NATO will be its transformation into a "buffer" zone. This scenario has been partially implemented. Ukraine has been actually squeezed between NATO and Russia-Belarus military union. The second wave of enlargement of the Alliance will only underline the features and contours of this "buffer" zone. Such a scenario could be acceptable for the Alliance from the military point of view since it does not require any additional deployment of forces on the territory of new member-countries and does not envisage high costs for ensuring their defence and security. But it cannot satisfy NATO from a political standpoint. Firstly, it slows down the process of the Alliance's further enlargement; secondly, it encourages the enhancement of authoritarian rule and political instability in Ukraine.
The point is that, as a "buffer" zone, Ukraine can support the Euro-Atlantic security only on condition of being a politically stable country. The buffer role deprives Ukraine of external conditions, which are necessary to ensure such stability. The uncertain situation of being a "buffer zone" could provoke Russia to annex Ukraine back as its former territory. Should Russia establish its military presence in Ukraine, it will inevitably try to establish its total political and economic domination. Should it all materialise, the "buffer zone" scenario will be an intermediate stage for the Russian Federation to absorb Ukraine.
Therefore, if the Alliance has motivated its enlargement by its intentions to ensure security and strengthen the roots of young democracies in the countries of Eastern Europe, Ukraine needs the implementation of these intentions to the utmost because it suffers from the biggest shortage of security and democracy.
Integration of Ukraine with Russia will lead to a complete loss of these basic values of the Ukrainian nation and disappearance of Ukraine as an independent sovereign state. Moreover, the status of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state goes contrary to the essential geopolitical interests of Russia in its aspirations to revive its continental geopolitical power. The development of awareness of such turn of events is shaping up the geopolitical interests of Ukraine in the context of its aspirations towards the Euro-Atlantic alliance.
Another basic strategic interest of Ukraine vis-a-vis NATO is linked to those favourable conditions, which membership in the Alliance ensures for enhancing democratic values and development of civil society in our country. Therefore, the accession of Ukraine to NATO means the implementation of its civic interests. It means that Ukraine will join the European civilisation. The alternative could be the Eurasian direction, which presumes accession to the community of CIS countries with authoritarian or half-authoritarian regimes, "shadow" economies, marginalized and spiritually devastated societies.
The NATO membership provides strong guarantees of keeping the national identity and integrity for the Ukrainian nation. Being part of the community of civilised democratic member-nations will encourage formation of the Ukrainian national elite oriented towards national Ukrainian and European values as well as promotion of Ukrainian national culture and culture of Ukraine minorities.
In the context of implementation of the above-mentioned nationalinterests the issues of security should be clearly specified since their solution is linked to the process of Euro-Atlantic integration. This paper specifically identifies new threats to regional security after the second wave of the NATO enlargement and mechanisms for their neutralisation; it evaluates the balance of forces in the region, highlights the unresolved border issues, illegal migration, territorial problems and inter-ethnic disputes.
Much attention should be paid to addressing the problem of foreign military presence. It is evident that the Russian military on the Ukrainian territory and the NATO membership of Ukraine are incompatible options since such presence goes contrary to the principle of collective defence of the Alliance. Therefore, the process of gaining the NATO membership by Ukraine requires elaboration of specific mechanisms, which could ensure the unchallenged withdrawal of the Russian Black Sea naval fleet from the territory of Ukraine. These mechanisms should Ix- implemented at both the international level and at the level of bilateral inter-governmental relations.
At the national level these mechanisms envisage the establishment of internal legal, economic and political conditions for the elimination of the Russian