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Zelenskyy demands for ‘concrete guarantees’, security for Ukraine from NATO chief

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Speaking at a joint conference in Kyiv during the visit of NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday said while he values the alliance’s support during the ongoing Russian aggression, he would want NATO to do more than just military and financial assistance. Stoltenberg during the presser on Thursday said that he supports Kyiv to become the the part of the defensive military Alliance, but added that the main focus at this time is to help Ukraine prevail in the face of Russian aggression.

“We need something more than the kind of relationship we are having now,” Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy said at the joint press conference. 

“We will be in their alliance, we believe that is a guarantee of Ukraine’s security and a concrete guarantee,” he added. 

An honour to be back in Kyiv & meet with President @ZelenskyyUa. #Ukraine‘s rightful place is in #NATO, and over time our support will help to make this possible. We stand by you today & for the long haul. pic.twitter.com/0vlKZNVY0F

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) April 20, 2023

Zelenskyy stated that while Kyiv awaits the membership of NATO and that it is yet not a member, “we want to have very specific guarantees of security approved in Vilnius, if there is an opportunity to do that then we will be ready on our side.” The Ukrainian President, however, did not elaborate on the type of guarantees that he sought for his country as the war continues unabated in the contentious eastern Donbass. 

NATO has an open-door policy, implying that any country can submit an application to join the bloc but it is subject to approval by all of its 31 member states. Accession rules for the US-led military Alliance suggest that any member can veto the request if the applying nation fails to meet the set standards. This includes “demonstrating a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy” and “the fair treatment of minority populations,” according to the NATO website. 

Ukraine has not yet been incorporated into the bloc as it is at war with Russia. This would mean immediate invocation of Article 5, dragging the Defense Alliance into direct confrontation with Moscow’s forces. Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an attack on one member is an attack on all, and obligates the entire alliance to come to the attacked country’s aid. On Zelenskyy’s request, Stoltenberg said Ukraine’s NATO membership and security guarantees will be “high on the agenda” during the summit scheduled for July in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. He, however, did not comment on the accession.