Ukraine has de facto joined NATO – defense minister
Ukraine is a de facto member of the NATO alliance, despite not having officially joined the US-led military bloc, Kiev’s Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov has claimed.
He made the statement in a tweet following a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.
“We have come a long way and have de facto joined the alliance,” the minister wrote, while also thanking Stoltenberg for his support for Ukraine amid its ongoing conflict with Russia.
“Ukraine is already making significant contributions to the security of the free world,” the minister added.
Reznikov also expressed confidence that victory over Moscow and “successful reforms” domestically would “open up new horizons” for his country, seemingly a reference to Ukraine officially joining the bloc at some point in the future.
Russia views NATO’s eastward expansion as a major security threat. When Moscow launched its military offensive against Kiev in late February, one of its key demands was for Ukraine to officially declare itself a neutral country that would never join any Western military alliance.
On September 30, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky filed an application to join NATO and called for an accelerated admission procedure for his country.
However, Kiev’s backers in the West have not appeared overly enthusiastic on the issues. Stoltenberg has pointed out that “any decision on membership has to be taken by consensus” by all 30 NATO members and that its top priority right now is to “support Ukraine” militarily and financially during the conflict.
Washington voiced a similar stance, with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying earlier this month that the question of Ukraine joining NATO “should be taken up at a different time."
A statement in support of Kiev’s bid for swift accession has been backed by just nine member states – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.