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6 Oct, 2022 09:00

EU commissioner warns Ukraine on NATO bid

The alliance does not accept nations at war, to avoid being dragged into one, Commissioner Thierry Breton said
EU commissioner warns Ukraine on NATO bid

Ukraine’s goal of becoming a part of NATO cannot be realized as long as it is engaged in armed hostilities with Russia, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton has said.

Speaking on the French TV channel BFM on Thursday, Thierry Breton called the ongoing conflict a disqualifying condition for Kiev’s bid. Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky earlier sent a request to NATO, asking the US-led bloc to grant Ukraine candidate status and fast-track it into the alliance.

“To apply for NATO membership, you must not be a country at war,” the French businessman and EU commissioner for the internal market said. “Accessions are made when the countries are at peace” because otherwise the entire alliance would be dragged into the conflict that the new member is engaged in.

As “Ukraine is, alas, a country at war,” its demand for NATO membership is a “symbolic, political demand,” Breton argued.

Ukraine declared its strategic goal of joining NATO after the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev. In 2019, the policy choice was enshrined in the nation’s constitution.

Last Friday, Zelensky signed on camera a formal call to “accelerate” his country’s accession, arguing that Ukraine was “de facto” already part of the organization. His office heavily implied that a positive reaction would follow.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated on the same day that the bloc maintained its previous stance. While it supported Kiev’s fight against Russia and kept the door open, “NATO is not party to the conflict” and would not change its Ukraine policy, the official told journalists.

Nine central and eastern European members of the alliance have expressed support for Ukraine’s proposed swift accession, but others, including the US, either tacitly or directly rejected it. Bulgaria said Kiev and Moscow must be at peace before Ukraine can join the bloc.

When Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February, it cited a growing threat to its national security as one of the reasons. Moscow accused NATO of a creeping expansion into Ukraine despite not formally accepting it as a member, and said it crossed Russia’s red line.