Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has warned NATO against repeating past mistakes and rejecting Ukraine’s bid to join the alliance. In an interview with Axel Springer media group in Berlin, Kuleba urged NATO to learn from its decision 15 years ago when it denied Ukraine a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the behest of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Kuleba argued that it would be “suicidal” for Europe to not accept Ukraine into NATO after the war ends, as it would leave the option of war open.
The 2008 decision by NATO states to deny Ukraine a MAP has been a point of contention for many years. Merkel, who retired from politics in 2021, has defended her opposition to granting MAP to Ukraine and has refused to denounce her past policies towards Russia. However, Kuleba believes that NATO should not repeat this mistake and should instead support Ukraine’s aspiration to join the alliance.
Ukraine officially applied to join NATO in September 2022, following Russia’s military operation in the neighboring country. Kuleba argues that accepting Ukraine into NATO is crucial for Europe’s security and stability. He believes that denying Ukraine’s membership would leave the option of war open and potentially escalate tensions in the region.
Kuleba’s comments come ahead of a NATO summit scheduled to take place in mid-July in Vilnius, Lithuania. Ukrainian officials have stated that President Volodymyr Zelensky will not attend the summit unless Ukraine is provided with a concrete path to membership. They are calling for the start of the membership procedure, indicating their strong desire to join the alliance.
On the other hand, Russia opposes Ukraine’s NATO membership and sees it as a threat to its own security. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it considers NATO’s expansion to the east as a security risk. Russia has listed Ukraine’s neutrality as one of the conditions for a lasting peace between the two countries.
The issue of Ukraine’s potential NATO membership remains highly controversial and deeply influenced by geopolitical tensions in the region. As the NATO summit approaches, the decision on Ukraine’s membership aspirations will have significant implications for the future of the alliance and regional stability. It remains to be seen how NATO will respond to Ukraine’s bid and whether they will take into account the lessons from the past, as urged by Minister Kuleba. The outcome of this decision will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for Ukraine, NATO, and the broader international community.