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NATO allies agree to admit Ukraine as member in major blow to Putin

 April 25, 2023

In a significant move, all NATO members have agreed that Ukraine will be allowed to join the military alliance. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made the announcement, emphasizing that Ukraine must have the deterrence to prevent new attacks from Russia once the war ends. He added that joining NATO would provide Kyiv with protection.

Stoltenberg's announcement followed his first visit to Kyiv since Russia's invasion just over a year ago. During a news conference, he stated, "Let me be clear, Ukraine's rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family. Ukraine's rightful place is in NATO."

NATO Summit Invitation for Zelenskyy

Stoltenberg revealed that NATO allies had agreed that Ukraine would eventually become a member of the alliance. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had been invited to attend the next summit in July. The primary focus now, according to Stoltenberg, is to ensure that Ukraine prevails against Russia.

Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the invitation to the alliance but emphasized the need for a roadmap to becoming a member.

Acknowledging the need for new support platforms as the battle with Russia enters its second year, Stoltenberg underlined the necessity of ensuring that already supplied weapons continue to work. He described the current situation as a battle of attrition and a war of logistics.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed these sentiments, stating that international backing for Ukraine holds "strong and true." 

Requests for Assistance

Zelenskyy urged Western allies to send more fighter jets and long-range missiles to help repel Russian troops.

NATO members have sent some Soviet-era fighter jets to the war-torn country, but no modern planes, such as the U.S.-designed F-16, have been pledged despite Ukraine's requests. Ukraine's Western supporters have also been reluctant to send long-range rockets due to concerns that Ukraine could use them to hit targets within Russia.

Military Aid from Allies

Ukraine reported receiving the first shipment of Patriots, one of the most advanced U.S. air defense systems, from its allies last week. Additionally, Germany delivered the promised Iris-T anti-air missile system. 

Kyiv has been urging Western allies to provide advanced equipment to defend itself from Russian missile attacks and repel Moscow's invasion.

The NATO chief underlined the alliance's commitment to long-term backing for Ukraine, including a multi-year program to help the country transition from Soviet-era equipment standards and doctrines to NATO standards and doctrines. 

Stoltenberg stressed the need to ensure that Ukraine has the military strength and deterrence to prevent new attacks, recalling that the war began with the 2014 annexation of Crimea, not in February last year.

Russia's Opposition to Ukraine's NATO Membership

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that preventing Ukraine from joining NATO remains one of the goals of Moscow's "special military operation." 

He argued that Ukraine's accession would pose a "serious, significant threat to our country, to our country's security."

This month, Finland made a significant move by becoming a member of NATO, setting aside years of military nonalignment to seek protection under the organization's security umbrella following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This move dealt a significant political blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as it doubled the size of NATO's border with Russia. Neighboring Sweden is also expected to join, but Turkey has so far blocked its approval due to "security concerns."

The Road Ahead

As Ukraine prepares for its future NATO membership, the country faces the challenges of the ongoing war with Russia and the need for continued support from Western allies. With the unanimous agreement among NATO allies for Ukraine to join the alliance, the focus now turns to ensuring the nation's sovereignty, independence, and security.