NATO on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to admit Ukraine as a member of the alliance as Russia steps up its attacks in the country.
Representatives from NATO member states met in Romania to drum up support for Ukraine after devastating missile strikes left the country without power in some areas. Some nations committed military aid to help Kyiv maintain its defense, but most importantly the member states vowed to keep Ukraine on track to join the alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said “NATO’s door is open” and stressed that “Russia does not have a veto” on countries joining the alliance.
“We stand by that, too, on membership for Ukraine,” he said, adding that Russia will see Finland and Sweden as NATO members soon.
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A joint statement from the foreign ministers of Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and Ukraine stressed the “commitment and unwavering support to Ukraine’s European integration” as well as its “Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”
“A strong, independent and prosperous Ukraine is essential for the future of European security,” the ministers wrote, adding that “the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people for their European choice is unprecedented.”
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In addition to support for expanding the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the New Grain from Ukraine programs – which aim to help avoid widespread famine after Russia tried to strong arm the world by holding 30% of the global grain supply hostage – the ministers urged support for businesses investing in Ukraine and “continuing the current trade liberalization” in the country.
“This is part of our collective responsibility to make sure that justice, human rights and international law prevail,” the minister concluded. “We will continue our close collaboration in ensuring strong political financial and military support to Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis tweeted out that his message to fellow NATO foreign ministers is “Keep calm and give tanks.”
Some officials and analysts believe that Ukraine’s relationship with NATO – and its potential to join the alliance – played a role in prompting Russia’s invasion as Putin feared having another NATO ally along his country’s border.
But Ukraine will not join NATO in the near future as its borders remain contested with Russia.
Stoltenberg, despite his commitment to support Ukraine’s application should it seek membership, worried that trying to push ahead with membership now could end up dividing what has so far remained a staunchly unified alliance.
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“We are in the midst of a war, and therefore we should do nothing that can undermine the unity of allies to provide military, humanitarian, financial support to Ukraine because we must prevent President Putin from winning,” he said.
The G3 Box News contributed to this report.