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 national interests 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 military presence on the territory of Ukraine. The introduction of the following measures could create the legal pre-conditions, namely:
o bringing the activities of the Russian Black Sea naval fleet into compliance with the requirements of the Law of Ukraine "0n the procedure for admission and conditions of hosting the units of the armed forces of other nations on the territory of Ukraine;
o introducing monitoring violations of I he laws of Ukraine and the agreement that regulates the activities of the Russian Black Sea naval fleet formations on the territory of Ukraine;
o elaborating andimplementing clear cut control mechanisms over the activities of the RF Black Sea naval fleet on the territory of Ukraine by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, other central and local bodies of executive power and local government.
As regards the economic pre-conditions, the whole range of challenging problems should be addressed:
Firstly, it is clear that proceeding from geopolitical and geo-strategic considerations Russia will use all possible leverage, in the first place economic tools, to maintain its military presence on the territory of Ukraine. One of the most effective levers in this respect is the use of strategic dependence of Ukraine on energy supplies from Russia. Therefore, the issue of diversification of energy sources is becoming critically important in addressing the problem of elimination of the Russian military presence and gaining the NATO membership by Ukraine.
Secondly, stationing of the RF Black Sea naval fleet on the territory of Ukraine is realised on lease-holding conditions as regards the land plots, facilities of coastal infrastructure and bay waters through annual repayments of part of the Ukrainian debt in the amount of US$ 75 mln. The total Ukrainian debt at the time of signing the Agreement was nearly US$ 2.2 bin. Over the past six years of lease holding the Russian side repaid US$ 587 mln. In the case of early withdrawal