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12 Nov, 2023 03:13

Ex-NATO chief wants Ukraine to join without lost territories

Anders Fogh Rasmussen wants the US-led military bloc to impose a de facto no-fly zone over the areas still controlled by Kiev
Ex-NATO chief wants Ukraine to join without lost territories

Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that Ukraine should be invited to join the bloc as soon as possible, even if partially. The ex-Danish prime minister belives that the threat of an Article 5 intervention would force Russia to wind down its military operation.

Even Ukraine’s most vocal supporters admit that Kiev cannot join the military bloc as long as the conflict with Russia continues. However, Rasmussen believes that inviting Ukraine within its de facto borders would limit the threat of escalation with Moscow.

“The absolute credibility of Article 5 guarantees would deter Russia from mounting attacks inside the Ukrainian territory inside NATO and so free up Ukrainian forces to go to the frontline,” Rasmussen told The Guardian.

Article 5 of the NATO treaty stipulates that an attack on one member state triggers a response from the whole alliance, so the bloc would have to join the conflict in Ukraine and fight against Russia if Kiev is admitted now.

The Guardian wrote that Rasmussen believes his proposal is akin to imposing a no-fly zone over the territories still under Kiev’s control and would deter Moscow from pushing forward. “To make Article 5 credible there would have to be a clear message to Russia that any violation of NATO territory would be met by a response,” he added.

At this year’s gathering in Vilnius, Lithuania, the bloc stopped short of offering Ukraine a clear timeline for accession, infuriating Kiev. President Vladimir Zelensky called it “unprecedented and absurd,” but eventually softened his rhetoric, describing the overall outcome of the summit as “positive,” due to the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council and the removal of the requirement for a Membership Action Plan for Kiev.

Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who led NATO between 2009 and 2014 and became a “non-staff” Ukrainian presidential adviser in 2016, believes that the bloc’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington next summer would be the perfect time to officially extend the invitation to Ukraine. “We need a new European security architecture in which Ukraine is in the heart of NATO,” he said.

Russia has for years opposed NATO’s eastward expansion as a threat to national security. President Vladimir Putin cited the bloc’s involvement in Ukraine as among the key reasons for Moscow to launch its military operation against Kiev.

The US-led military alliance first declared the inclusion of Ukraine as one of its objectives in 2008, dismissing Moscow’s warning that the move would cross a red line. After the 2014 coup in Kiev, the new Ukrainian government dropped the nation’s neutrality policy and said that joining NATO was its primary goal. Since then, member states have trained and armed the Ukrainian army and established military infrastructure in the country without formally accepting Kiev’s membership bid, Moscow said.