Paul Ronzheimer is deputy editor-in-chief of BILD and a senior journalist writing for Axel Springer, the parent company of POLITICO.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned European allies that it would be “suicidal” not to accept Ukraine into NATO after the end of the war with Russia.
Kuleba’s comments come ahead of a NATO summit in mid-July when Kiev’s membership bid is set to be the most politically sensitive point of discussion. Ukraine is looking to secure commitment from the defense alliance to NATO’s aspirations, but a number of allies say a serious discussion about Ukraine in NATO can only happen after Russian forces are removed from its territory.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on June 22 that the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12 should focus on strengthening Ukraine’s military rather than opening a process for Kiev’s accession to the transatlantic alliance.
“After the war is over, it would be suicidal for Europe not to accept Ukraine’s accession to NATO because that would mean that the option of … war would remain open,” Kuleba told Axel Springer, POLITICO’s parent company, in an interview Friday in Kiev.
“The only way to close the door to Russian aggression against Europe and the Euro-Atlantic space as a whole is to include Ukraine in NATO, because Russia will not dare to repeat this experience again,” Kuleba said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has a vision for Ukraine joining NATO, as well as the European Union, once Kiev fends off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Ukraine’s Ambassador to NATO Natalia Galibarenko told Politico in late June that Kiev was seeking “some kind of invitation — or at least the commitment … to consider the time frame and modalities for our membership” at the Vilnius summit.
In the interview, Kuleba backed away from Germany and others advocating such a commitment, warning of a similar outcome to the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, when Berlin and Paris denied NATO membership to Ukraine and Georgia.
“Don’t repeat the mistake Chancellor Merkel made in Bucharest in 2008 when she vehemently opposed any progress towards Ukraine’s membership in NATO,” he said.
“This decision opened the door for Putin to invade Georgia and then continue his destabilizing efforts in the region, and eventually illegally annex Crimea,” Kuleba said. Because if Ukraine had been accepted into NATO by 2014, it wouldn’t be there [have been] The illegal annexation of Crimea. “There will be no war in Donbass, there will be no large-scale invasion,” he said.
Kuleba rejected statements by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that it would be “impossible” for Ukraine to beat Russia, saying he was “tired of facing all these nonsense arguments”.
“Everything is just so-and-so,” Kuleba said.
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