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20 Aug, 2021 16:08

NATO’s reluctance to admit Ukraine into transatlantic alliance is sign that Russia is ‘increasing its clout,’ Zelensky complains

NATO’s reluctance to admit Ukraine into transatlantic alliance is sign that Russia is ‘increasing its clout,’ Zelensky complains

Removing the uncertainty around Ukraine’s accession to NATO would provide Kiev with protection from a new Russian offensive, and that suggestions it shouldn’t be admitted into the US-led bloc due to mass corruption are bogus.

That’s according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who told The Washington Post on Thursday that the West was sending a message to Kiev and other nations aspiring to join the military bloc that they can’t be part of the club.

“[It is] a signal to other countries that you guys are not welcome here, and Russia is just around the corner, increasing its clout,” Zelensky told the American daily.

The Ukrainian leader also expressed his disagreement with the accusations that his country is uniquely corrupt, pushing back against US President Joe Biden’s comment that the country has to “clean up corruption” before it will be accepted into the bloc.

“It’s very popular to accuse Ukraine of corruption, and it’s not that I hold these views only since I became president, but I’ve always felt offended by this,” Zelensky told the newspaper. “Because you know what? No country is free of corruption.”

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Joining NATO was a stated goal of President Zelensky when he was elected leader in 2019, and he has repeatedly begged to be allowed into the alliance. The idea has been less popular with members of the bloc, however, and there appears to be no sign of Kiev being admitted any time soon.

Earlier this year, French Ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins noted that the country must follow the roadmap provided for it by NATO if it wishes to officially be put on a Membership Action Plan (MAP).

“At the moment, there is no consensus among the members to grant MAP to Ukraine,” he explained. “It’s not a question of France or other countries. It’s just a matter of consensus.”

“Let’s do our homework and not open up a perspective that is not yet realistic,” he concluded.

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The Ukrainian government also wishes to join the European Union – another one of Zelensky’s goals. In 2016, then-President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said it would take around 20 or 25 years for Ukraine to join the EU and NATO.

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