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31 Aug, 2021 11:14

Ukraine could be admitted to NATO regardless of leaders’ concerns over bloody civil war in the Donbass, bloc’s Kiev envoy claims

Ukraine could be admitted to NATO regardless of leaders’ concerns over bloody civil war in the Donbass, bloc’s Kiev envoy claims

The head of NATO’s mission to Ukraine has declared that the raging civil war in the Donbass is not a major obstacle to the country’s long-standing hopes for membership of the bloc, despite its application to join being held up.

In an interview with the US-funded 'European Truth' news site published on Tuesday, Alexander Vinnikov said that there is no reason why the fierce fighting in the region should prevent Kiev from being accepted as a member of the bloc.

“This is a political decision,” he said. “There is no such norm in the Washington Treaty of NATO. Despite recent warnings that some member states have concerns about admitting Ukraine, given the territorial disputes and its stand-off with Russia, Vinnikov emphasized that all NATO members “should be convinced that the entry of a new member will strengthen the security of the Bloc.”

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According to him, the region is still a primary focus for the US-led military faction. “We have significantly increased our presence in the Black Sea,” he said. “More ships, more aircraft flights, NATO forces are stationed in Romania; NATO ships are entering Ukrainian ports, we are conducting joint exercises… All these are clear, concrete steps of solidarity and support that we plan to continue.”

Vinnikov’s comments come after the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, argued last week that Ukraine would need to rectify its territorial disputes and other major issues before being considered for membership.

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Signing up to NATO has been a long-standing ambition for Kiev’s politicians since the 2014 Maidan and, in September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed legislation that he said would help further develop the partnership between NATO and the country. The ultimate goal of the bill was to help see Kiev instated as a fully-fledged member of the bloc.

Russia has consistently said it sees Kiev’s admission to NATO as a red line, given the potential for escalation if American troops and hardware were to be stationed along the vast shared border. President Vladimir Putin said Ukrainians who oppose such a move are “smart” because “they don’t want to be a bargaining chip, or cannon fodder.”

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