Ukraine calls for an acceleration of its joining NATO as a “signal” for Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Silinsky would like his country to join NATO more quickly. He wrote on Twitter that this is the only way to end the war in the Donbas. Russia responded immediately.
aIn light of the growing tensions with Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on NATO to move forward with his country’s accession to the military alliance. “NATO is the only way to end the war in the Donbas,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, referring to the troubled region in eastern Ukraine. A swift entry into NATO would be a “real signal for Russia.”
The Kremlin responded immediately, saying that NATO membership would only exacerbate tensions in eastern Ukraine. “We have great doubts that this will help Ukraine solve its internal problems,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “From our point of view, this will only worsen the situation.” For millions of residents of the unilaterally proclaimed republics of eastern Ukraine, “NATO membership will be totally unacceptable.”
Since mid-February, fighting has escalated between the pro-Russian separatists and the government army in eastern Ukraine. Recently, reports of massive transfers of Russian forces have caused great concern in the West. According to the Ukrainian government, Russia is currently gathering thousands of military personnel on the northern and eastern borders with Ukraine and on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which Moscow annexed.
NATO reacted cautiously to the Ukrainian president’s request. On Tuesday, a NATO representative said, upon accepting new members, that the alliance was pursuing an “open door policy” and its 2008 decisions regarding Ukraine’s possible accession. At the same time, the coalition expects more reforms from Kiev. After a phone conversation with Silinsky, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg criticized “Russian military activities in and around Ukraine” and “ongoing violations of the ceasefire.”
NATO “firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Stoltenberg said she remained “committed to a close partnership with Ukraine”. A military intervention by NATO in the conflict with Russia is excluded. Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014, the military alliance has increased its assistance to reinforce the Ukrainian armed forces. To this end, trust funds have been established to promote programs such as explosive devices or cyber defense.
Jürgen Hardt (CDU), foreign policy spokesman for the union’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag, described the reports of Russian troop movements on the eastern and northern borders of Ukraine on Tuesday as “extremely worrying”. The “rattling of military swords” of Russia is very dangerous and leads to “further instability in Europe”. Hardt warned that Russia’s renewed aggression against Ukraine would “undermine the foundations of the European security system.”
More than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, which has been going on since 2014. In July of last year, the conflicting parties agreed to a ceasefire, but it has been repeatedly violated since then. Most recently, according to the Ukrainian army, two government soldiers were shot dead while fighting with separatists in the east of the country. Since the start of the year, 23 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the conflict, up from 50 in the whole of the past year.
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