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12 Jul, 2023 15:24

Zelensky comments on NATO summit outcome

Kiev understands it can’t become a member of the bloc while the conflict with Russia continues, the Ukrainian leader says
Zelensky comments on NATO summit outcome

The results of the NATO summit in Lithuania were “very good” despite Kiev not receiving an invitation to join the US-led military bloc, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has claimed. 

“Ukraine is and always will be a donor of our common security,” Zelensky insisted during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Vilnius on Wednesday. “I think that Ukraine needs NATO as much as NATO needs Ukraine,” he added. 

Zelensky stated it is “logical and understandable” that “some are afraid to talk about our membership in NATO, because no one wants to start a world war.”  

“Ukraine understands that it can’t be a member of NATO as long as the war [with Russia] continues,” he added. 

The Ukrainian leader confirmed reports that the US and its G7 allies are planning to provide joint security assurances to Kiev, saying: “[They] will confirm those guarantees today, I’m sure that it’ll happen.” 

Zelensky insisted that the G7’s security guarantees are “very important for the people, for Ukraine.” However, he stressed that “they shouldn’t be a substitute for NATO membership. Security guarantees must be made on Ukraine’s way towards NATO.” 

According to the Ukrainian leader, Kiev also reached “major agreements” with Western backers regarding new military aid packages. A shortage of long-range weapons remains a problem for the Ukrainian military, Zelensky said, adding that he would raise the issue during talks with US President Joe Biden later in the day. 

Zelensky had lashed out at NATO on social media on Tuesday, claiming its “indecisiveness” on Ukraine’s membership bid was a sign of “weakness.” He said that he had learned there would be no timeline for Kiev’s membership in the final statement by NATO at the Vilnius summit, which he described as “unprecedented and absurd.”  

The US delegation in the Lithuanian capital was “furious” after finding out about Zelensky’s comments, the Washington Post reported, citing an informed official. 

In a statement issued late on Tuesday, NATO members said they would only “be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met.”  

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba told US state-financed outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Wednesday that Kiev had never been informed what NATO’s conditions were, as well as who should fulfill them and when. 

Moscow, which views NATO as hostile and vigorously opposes its eastward expansion, highlighted Kiev’s aspirations of joining the bloc as among the main reasons for launching its military operation against Ukraine in February 2022.