NATO chief says Ukraine should not join alliance until Russia’s invasion is over

The head of the alliance has said that Ukraine will not be able to join NATO as long as Russia’s aggression continues.

Jens Stoltenberg said, “It is not on the agenda to become a member in the middle of a war.” “The issue is what happens when the war ends.”

Last September, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a bid for fast-track membership of NATO after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed four partially occupied regions of Ukraine as part of Moscow’s offensive against Russia. declared as land. Since then, NATO members have been talking a lot about how Ukraine is included in the alliance, but little concrete action, with some of Kiev’s Western allies wary of moves that could lead NATO to an active war with Russia. Could have pushed.

At an event in Brussels organized by the German Marshall Fund, a United States-based think tank, Stoltenberg acknowledged there were differences within the coalition over how to address Kiev’s membership ambitions.

“There are different views in the alliance and, of course, the only way to make decisions in NATO is by consensus. Discussions are underway now,” he said, with the alliance set to hold a summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in July.

Stoltenberg said, “No one is able to tell you what will be the final decision of the Vilnius summit on this issue.”

Mr. Zelensky and some of Ukraine’s closest allies in Eastern Europe are pressing Kiev to take concrete steps toward admitting NATO. After meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, Latvia’s prime minister, Krisjanis Karins, said Russia would start a conflict again if Ukraine was not allowed to join NATO after the end of the war.

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“For lasting peace, we need Ukraine, [an] Free, independent and free Ukraine as a part of the NATO alliance,” he said.

In April, Mr. Stoltenberg visited Kiev to reiterate that the coalition stands with Kiev. “Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO,” the alliance’s secretary general said, “and over time, our support will help you make that possible.” However, he did not give any time limit for this. Later that month, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, wrote in an opinion article for foreign Affairs: “The time has come for the alliances to stop making excuses and begin the process that ultimately leads to Ukraine’s accession … What we need is a clear written statement from the allies that paves the way for accession.” does.”

At their 2008 summit in Bucharest, NATO agreed that Ukraine would eventually become a member of the alliance.

Mr. Stoltenberg’s comments came as Washington said it was probing reports of US vehicles being used in incursions into Russian territory, while the head of an anti-Putin militia that claimed the attack said Moscow was being punished. More such attacks should be expected.

Denis Kapustin, who described himself as the commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), spoke on the Ukrainian side of the border, a day after Moscow said it had canceled a raid on the Belgorod region. Two groups operating in Ukraine – the RVC and the Freedom of Russia Army – have claimed responsibility. Kiev has said it was not involved in the raid and said it was thanks to the internal Russian conflict.

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“I think you’ll see us again on that side,” said Mr. Kapustin, who introduced himself by his call-sign, White Rex. “I can’t reveal those things to come, I can’t even reveal the direction. The range is too long. Yet there will be a place where things will heat up.”

Asked about reports that US-made military vehicles were involved in the raid, Mr Kapustin said: “I know where I got my weapons. Unfortunately not from Western partners.

White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters that while the US was looking into the reports, it had been clear with Kiev that it does not support any use of US-made equipment outside Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a briefing in Moscow that “it is no secret to us that the direct and indirect involvement of Western countries in this conflict is increasing by the day”.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu promised on Wednesday that Moscow would respond swiftly and “very hard” to any cross-border raids by Ukrainian extremists.

Elsewhere, Russia and China have agreed to deepen investment and enhance cooperation in a number of trade areas, with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signing a set of bilateral agreements on a visit to Beijing. China has sought to portray itself as a neutral mediator seeking to end the war in Ukraine, refusing to condemn Moscow for their aggression. But the visit is the latest sign of deepening diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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