Ukrainian President Zelensky Demands NATO’s Courage on Accession Process

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky will only attend the upcoming NATO summit if the alliance demonstrates the necessary courage to seriously consider Ukraine’s request for membership, according to a senior official from the Ukrainian presidential office. The statement highlights Ukraine’s firm stance on its aspiration to join NATO and urges the bloc to initiate the membership process. However, the country acknowledges that joining while the conflict with Russia persists will pose challenges. Russia, in turn, views NATO’s expansion as a security threat and has cited Ukraine’s desire for membership as a factor in its military operations.

Ukraine’s Call for NATO’s Action:

Igor Zhovka, Deputy Head of Ukraine’s presidential office, stated that President Zelensky would not attend the NATO summit scheduled for July 11-12 unless the bloc demonstrates the necessary courage in considering Ukraine’s membership request. Zhovka emphasized the importance of a serious response from NATO, including extending an invitation for membership, which would mark the initial stage of the process. He highlighted that Ukraine had already submitted its application and suggested that the Vilnius summit would be an opportune moment for NATO to begin addressing Ukraine’s request.

The Journey Towards NATO Membership:

Last autumn, Ukraine formally applied for NATO membership after four territories voted to join Russia in referendums that were not recognized by Kiev or its allies. While NATO maintains an “open door” policy, it has yet to officially grant Ukraine’s request. President Zelensky has asserted Ukraine’s readiness to join the alliance, but acknowledges that ongoing conflict with Russia presents a significant hurdle to accession.

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NATO’s Stance and Conditions:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently stated that discussions on Ukraine’s membership could commence if Ukraine successfully asserts its sovereignty and independence in Europe. Stoltenberg assured that NATO would address Ukraine’s aspirations for membership following the Vilnius summit. This cautious approach reflects the complex geopolitical dynamics and the need for Ukraine to consolidate its sovereignty before advancing in the membership process.

Russia’s Concerns and Response:

Russia has consistently warned NATO against further eastward expansion, viewing it as a threat to its security. Russian officials have repeatedly cited Ukraine’s desire for NATO membership as a catalyst for their military operations in February 2022. Moscow remains vigilant in its opposition to NATO’s involvement in the region.

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