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10 Jul, 2023 12:38

Not the time for Ukraine to join NATO – Munich Security Conference chair

Christoph Heusgen has claimed accepting Kiev would mean dragging the military bloc “directly” into a conflict with Russia
Not the time for Ukraine to join NATO – Munich Security Conference chair

Ukraine cannot join NATO while its conflict with Russia continues, Munich Security Conference chairman Christoph Heusgen has argued. He added, however, that security guarantees should be created for Kiev, with the prospect of full membership further down the road.

In an interview with Germany’s Rheinische Post newspaper published on Monday, Heusgen claimed that “Ukraine must and will become a member of NATO – as soon as the conditions allow this.

However, granting Kiev membership “in the current phase of the conflict” is out of the question, Heusgen stressed.

That would drag the alliance directly in the war, because, according to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, collective defense would be triggered then,” the official explained.

He went on to express hope that during the NATO summit, that kicks off in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Tuesday, leaders of member states would send a clear signal that Ukraine belongs to the “NATO family,” as well as discuss conditions for Kiev’s future membership.

At the weekend, Britain’s Telegraph newspaper cited anonymous NATO officials as saying that Germany opposed offering Ukraine a clear roadmap or concrete guarantees of joining the US-led military bloc at the upcoming summit.

According to the newspaper, Berlin is concerned that Kiev would immediately invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which declares that an attack on one is an attack on all, should it be admitted into the bloc.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated last month that the Ukrainian leadership was well aware that joining NATO is “out of the question” for as long as it is locked in conflict with Russia.

US President Joe Biden recently voiced similar concerns, suggesting that Ukraine’s immediate NATO membership would mean “war with Russia.

Several media outlets have claimed in the run-up to the Vilnius summit that US, Germany, and France are attempting to devise security guarantees for Ukraine for the time being.

Ukraine formally applied to join NATO last autumn, with President Vladimir Zelensky since demanding an invitation or at least a clear membership timeline. The Ukrainian leader has reportedly even threatened to skip the Vilnius summit if he is not satisfied with what the bloc has to offer.

Russia has for years described NATO’s eastward expansion as a critical threat to its national security. Officials in Moscow, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly listed Ukraine’s NATO aspirations as one of the factors that led to Russia’s military action against its neighbor.