Ukraine’s membership in NATO is still a matter of controversy. Photo/Reuters
KIEV – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that Ukraine is getting closer to joining NATO. He Russia “cannot veto” Ukraine’s future membership in NATO.
This statement was made by the Secretary General of NATO on Thursday (7/9/2023) at the European Parliament, where he briefed members of the European Parliament regarding cooperation between the US-led military bloc and the EU. Stoltenberg emphasized that both sides “share the same values (and) challenges.”
Part of his speech was dedicated to what NATO offered Ukraine at a recent summit in Lithuania. Kiev was not given a roadmap to membership as requested, but was promised more military aid, representation through a newly created council, and the chance to skip the steps that NATO candidates typically have to jump through.
“And these three things, interoperability, the NATO-Ukraine Council and the removal of the Membership Action Plan requirement for Ukraine, show that Ukraine has never been closer to becoming a member of NATO than it is today,” said Stoltenberg, reported by RT.
US President Joe Biden said ahead of a NATO summit in July that Ukraine would have to meet certain conditions before its offer would be accepted. NATO member states have also ruled out joining Ukraine before the conflict with Russia is resolved.
Following the 2014 Western-backed coup in Kiev, Ukraine declared EU and NATO membership a foreign policy priority, and incorporated these aspirations into its constitution.
That stance has helped fuel tensions with Russia, which views NATO as a hostile organization and has for decades resisted NATO expansion in Europe. The bloc first promised that Ukraine would eventually become a member at a 2008 summit in Bucharest.
Russia has requested that Ukraine become a neutral country that does not host foreign military forces. In 2021, Moscow sought to negotiate security arrangements that could address its concerns, and called on NATO to withdraw its military infrastructure from Russia’s borders and halt its expansion. However, this proposal was rejected.
Russian President Vladimir Putin cited NATO’s involvement in Ukraine as one of the main reasons Moscow began its military operation against Kiev last year.
Speaking to European lawmakers, Stoltenberg reiterated NATO’s position that “Russia cannot veto the membership of any independent sovereign state in Europe.”