Ukraine has pressed for speeding up NATO membership

The Ukrainian president called on NATO to support the country’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) as a formal step towards joining the military alliance, saying such “signals” would prevent Russian aggression.

Volodymyr Zelensky made the remarks on Tuesday after discussing Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg and his allegations. The barrier of conflict The eastern Donbass region is controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists.

“NATO is the only way to end the Donbass war. Ukraine’s MAP will be a real signal for Russia, “Zelensky said in a statement.

His talks with the NATO leader came a day after two Ukrainian soldiers were killed in an attack by Russian-backed separatists. Four soldiers were killed in a single day late last month, marking the highest daily casualties since the call for a ceasefire in July and the rising death toll in the wake of the fighting this year.

Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 marked the beginning of a seven-year conflict that left 14,000 dead.

Stoltenberg expressed support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity but stopped short of whether NATO was ready to give up the so-called MAP, he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

“I have called on President Zelensky to express serious concern about Russia’s military activities in the vicinity of Ukraine and the ongoing ceasefire violations. . . We are committed to our close partnership, ”he said.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, later warned that Ukraine’s resistance to NATO’s accession to NATO would “exacerbate the situation” in the eastern region, adding that Western military alliance membership was “deeply unacceptable” to many citizens.

Kiev, including Afghanistan and Kosovo, has deepened Ukraine’s ties with NATO in recent years by sending troops to join its response forces, exercises and operations. Ukraine became the sixth country last year, along with Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden – to provide “enhanced opportunities” for deeper cooperation.

However, Kiev faces potential obstacles to joining the military alliance – not including parts of Russia. Natore is also demanding reforms in Ukraine’s defense and defense sectors.

Zelensky told Stoltenberg on Tuesday that Ukraine was committed to “reforming” its military and defense sector, but said reform alone would not “stop Russia”.

In a call with the Ukrainian president on Friday, Joe Biden expressed his “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression.” But the White House did not mention any request for Natore to join the readout of the call.

Opposing Russia’s long-standing opposition to Ukraine’s accession to NATO, he argued that it would break an alliance pledge not to extend Russia’s border eastward. The potential membership of its neighbors and how it could affect Russia’s critical naval base over Crimea is widely seen as a reason for its decision to annex the Kremlin peninsula in 2014.

A Nato official said on Tuesday that the alliance had an open door policy on membership and stood by Ukraine’s policy decisions in the 200’s, albeit without a deadline. The official added: “NATO will help Ukraine strengthen the capabilities of its armed forces, as well as comprehensive reforms that will help the country move forward with its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”

Russia has raised concerns about troop deployments in Crimea and the border areas of eastern Ukraine, insisting it has the right to withdraw troops from its territory without the consent of others and saying it is not a threat to any other country. .

The U.S. State Department said Monday that the United States had sought an explanation for Russia’s recent provocations. “We have sent this message very clearly to our Ukrainian parts, and we have also made it clear to the Russians that we stand by Kiev, we stand by our partner, Ukraine, in the face of this fear and aggression.”

Additional report by Katrina Manson in Washington

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