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18 Feb, 2022 07:50

Ex-MI6 chief reveals chances of Ukraine joining NATO

Sir John Sawers says the current crisis may have lessened Kiev’s chance of accession to the bloc
Ex-MI6 chief reveals chances of Ukraine joining NATO

The current crisis in Ukraine may have closed the door on the country’s potential admission to NATO, the former head of Britain’s foreign intelligence service claimed on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Atlantic Council, former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers said the chance of Kiev being accepted into the bloc had already been slim, and now its chances may be even slimmer.

The American think tank, based in Washington, is funded by a number of NATO states, including the UK, as well as several US government departments.

According to Sawers, the West’s recent conflict with Russia over Ukraine’s future in NATO could, in fact, have narrowed the opportunity for the country’s admittance into the US-led bloc.

“The prospect of Ukraine joining NATO has never been very strong, and after this crisis is probably even less strong than it was before,” the former chief spook said, noting that Kiev’s geographical position and history as a member of the Soviet Union had already cast doubt on the nation’s chances of being accepted into the alliance.

Ukraine’s accession to the military organization has long been a red line for Moscow. In December last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government presented a draft treaty of security proposals to the US and NATO, which aimed to facilitate de-escalation on the Ukraine border and ensure security in Europe. These included a ban on the expansion of NATO to the east, which would legally stop Brussels from accepting Kiev.

Washington responded to Moscow’s proposals last month, and Kremlin officials have slammed the US for ignoring the majority of its demands.

In the past few months, Russia has been accused of placing more than 100,000 troops on its frontier with Ukraine, with some believing this to be a sign of an impending military incursion. This has been repeatedly denied by the Kremlin, and has also been played down by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Earlier this week, Russian military officials announced that some troops on the Ukrainian border would be returning to base. Despite this, Western officials continue to insist an incursion could be just around the corner, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stating in a press conference on Wednesday that Russia is maintaining “a massive invasion force ready to attack.”