US senator slams 'ungrateful' Ukraine
US Senator Rand Paul has called out an “audacious” rant by Vladimir Zelensky on NATO’s reluctance to guarantee accession for Kiev, saying the Ukrainian president might need to recalibrate his complaints to avoid alienating Western allies.
“There’s an old English adage he might need to become aware of: Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, said on Tuesday in a Fox News interview. “We’ve given them $100 billion, and he has the audacity to be so brazen as to tell us we’d better speed it up? I’d say that’s audacious. I’d say it’s brazen, and that's not very grateful for the $100 billion that we’ve given him so far.”
Paul made his comments after Zelensky slammed NATO for declining to provide a roadmap to membership. US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders have sought to avoid a direct war with Russia by delaying Ukraine’s accession.
The alliance kicked off its two-day summit in Vilnius on Tuesday by issuing a statement saying that Kiev would be invited to join the group only “when allies agree and conditions are met.”
Zelensky delivered a scathing criticism of Kiev’s Western supporters on the first day of the summit, saying it was “unprecedented and absurd” for Ukraine to be denied a concrete timeline for being given an invitation and joining NATO. He also criticized “vague wording” about Kiev needing to meet certain conditions before being allowed to become a member.
Paul and other critics of US military aid to Ukraine have warned that letting Kiev join NATO would almost certainly result in a catastrophic war with Russia. The 31-nation bloc’s founding document stipulates that an attack on any member is tantamount to an attack on all, meaning the allies are obligated to defend the country in question.
Paul was one of 19 Republican lawmakers who demanded a halt to “unrestrained” US aid to Ukraine in April, saying Biden should instead focus on seeking a diplomatic solution to avoid prolonging the bloodshed. He also criticized Biden’s decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine, saying in Tuesday’s Fox interview that the conflict can only end through a negotiated solution.
“As long as we continue to supply unlimited arms to Zelensky, I think he sees no reason to have any negotiations,” Paul said. “So I think we’re putting off negotiations, but ultimately, the losers are the Ukrainian people.”
Russia, meanwhile, has argued that the delivery of heavy weapons and other military aid to Kiev makes NATO countries de facto direct participants in the conflict. Moscow also stressed that Ukraine’s neutrality would be one of the conditions for a lasting peace between the two countries.