NATO has indicated that it will continue to provide military support to Ukraine until the country decides to enter negotiations with Russia. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made this announcement on Thursday, following comments by his chief of staff that suggested Ukraine could exchange its territorial claims for NATO membership. Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO’s priority is to support Ukraine militarily, stating, “if you want a lasting, just peace, then military support for Ukraine is the way to get there. There is no doubt about that.” He also highlighted that it is Ukraine’s decision to determine the prerequisites for negotiations and find an acceptable solution.
Stoltenberg’s statement aligns with his previous position on Ukraine, where he has consistently maintained that the country will fight until it defeats Russia or chooses to seek peace. However, his recent affirmation of support came after his top aide raised doubts about NATO’s commitment to Ukraine’s objectives.
Speaking at the same conference, Stoltenberg’s chief of staff, Stian Jenssen, suggested that Ukraine could potentially give up territory in exchange for NATO membership. He stated that this idea was actively being discussed within NATO. These remarks sparked condemnation in Kiev, where Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has prohibited negotiations with Russia while Vladimir Putin remains in power. Zelensky has also pledged to retake all of Ukraine’s former territory, including Crimea.
In response to the controversy, NATO issued a statement asserting that its Ukraine policy had not changed. Jenssen, on the other hand, described his comments as a mistake and apologized for them. He also praised Ukraine’s efforts against Russia and revised his previous statement by claiming that NATO officials were discussing the extent of territory Ukraine could potentially regain.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military has been engaged in a counteroffensive against Russian forces since early June. The goal of this operation is to push south through Russian defensive lines, reach the Sea of Azov, and cut off Russian access to Crimea. However, the operation has thus far been unsuccessful, with Russia reporting that Ukraine has lost over 43,000 troops since June while making minimal gains.
Despite the significant losses, there is currently no indication that Kiev intends to seek peace in the near future. Newsweek reported that debates within Zelensky’s cabinet are centered around whether to continue with the failing counteroffensive or regroup and launch a new offensive in the spring.
In conclusion, NATO has affirmed its commitment to providing military support to Ukraine until the country decides to engage in negotiations with Russia. While comments made by Stoltenberg’s chief of staff sparked controversy, NATO has clarified that its policy remains unchanged. Kiev continues to pursue a counteroffensive against Russian forces, with discussions within the Ukrainian government focusing on the best course of action for the future.