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2 May, 2024 02:46

Ukraine must defeat Russia to join NATO – Zelensky

Some allies are skeptical of accepting Ukraine in the midst of an armed conflict, the president has said
Ukraine must defeat Russia to join NATO – Zelensky

Ukraine needs to defeat Russia on the battlefield in order to be admitted to NATO, President Vladimir Zelensky has said. The US-led bloc has made it clear that Kiev cannot become a member while fighting is ongoing. 

“I believe that we will be in NATO only if we win. I don’t think that we will be admitted [...] during the war,” Zelensky said on Tuesday during a meeting with military officers in Kiev. 

He explained that accession would require unanimous approval from the alliance’s 32 members. Some of them are reluctant to admit Ukraine in the midst of an armed conflict because “they feel the risks, while others are simply skeptical,” Zelensky argued. “Therefore, for Ukraine to be accepted into the alliance, we need victory.” He added that eventual membership would secure Ukraine’s independence.

Ukraine formally applied to join the Trans-Atlantic defense bloc in September 2022. While NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and individual members agree that Ukraine should someday become part of NATO, Kiev has not been presented with a specific timetable. It is widely understood that the country will not be admitted until the conflict with Russia is resolved.

Stoltenberg, who visited Kiev on Monday, told Reuters that the delays in weapons deliveries had “put a dent into the trust” between Ukraine and its foreign backers. 

While the EU is struggling to find enough arms and ammunition for Ukraine’s wartime needs, the latest aid package from the US had been stuck for months in Congress due to political wrangling. The delays sparked worries in Kiev, with Zelensky warning that Ukraine would lose if ammunition shortages were not remedied. Ukrainian officials have blamed the slowdown of deliveries for last year’s failed counteroffensive, as well as more recent losses of cities in the east to the Russian army.

Russia has cited NATO’s eastward expansion and the bloc’s military cooperation with Ukraine as among the root causes of the conflict. Moscow considers NATO a threat to its national security and insists that Ukraine must become a neutral country.