Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba argued on Monday that inviting Kiev into NATO would create peace in Europe. During an interview with the German public broadcaster ARD, Kuleba stated that Kiev was promised entry into NATO in 2008, but Germany and other Western European countries got cold feet. He emphasized that the upcoming Vilnius summit of the US-led military bloc is the time to correct this mistake.
“We appreciate everything that Germany and the US are doing for Ukraine to support us in this war,” Kuleba added, acknowledging the assistance provided by these countries. However, he disagreed with Berlin’s assertion that inviting Ukraine into NATO would drag the West into open war with Russia. He emphasized that the invitation is simply a political message to Ukraine and that Article 5, the mutual defense clause, only applies if Ukraine becomes a member country.
According to Kuleba, Ukraine’s NATO membership is a path towards peace. He claimed that once Ukraine becomes a NATO member, there would be no more wars in Europe because Russia would no longer dare to attack the alliance.
While Eastern European and Baltic states strongly support Kiev’s bid, the leaders of Western Europe and the US have opposed making Ukraine a full-fledged NATO member. In a CNN interview over the weekend, US President Joe Biden reiterated Washington’s opposition to admitting Ukraine into NATO and instead offered “Israel-like guarantees.”
Kuleba expressed his frustration with the reluctance to include Ukraine in NATO, asking why everyone always wants to put Ukraine in a separate pot. He called for a holistic solution for a European security architecture in which Ukraine sits in the NATO boat.
He further emphasized that Ukraine is not a burden but rather a win for NATO. He stated that without Ukraine’s army, the eastern flank of NATO could not be defended at all. While Kiev will not accept guarantees as a replacement for membership, it would consider them only as an interim measure.
The US and its allies have provided Ukraine with significant support, spending over $100 billion in 2022 on weapons, equipment, ammunition, and even cash. However, they maintained that they were not a party to the conflict with Russia.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov has also argued that his country is already de facto a member of the Western alliance and is carrying out NATO’s mission with the blood of Ukrainian soldiers.
It should be noted that Russia’s collective security proposal sent to Washington and Brussels in December 2021 included a demand for no NATO membership for Ukraine. Biden revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin presented this condition at their July 2021 summit but was refused, citing NATO’s open-door policy.
Moscow considers NATO’s eastward expansion a threat to Russia’s national security. It has cited Ukraine’s ties to the bloc as one of the root causes of the current armed conflict. Russian officials have argued that Ukraine’s neutrality would be a necessary prerequisite for lasting peace between the two countries.