Ukraine knows NATO membership still way off – Polish minister

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Kiev’s leadership understands that the country cannot join the bloc while it is at war, Tomasz Siemoniak has said

Ukrainian leaders are aware that they cannot hope to join NATO until the conflict with Russia is resolved, Polish Interior Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said on Friday.

Speaking to the Polish radio station PR1 about the upcoming NATO summit in Washington, Siemoniak said members of the US-led bloc should decide how to approach future support for Ukraine and its potential membership.

He acknowledged that Kiev joining NATO is “impossible” as long as the hostilities with Russia persist, and suggested that the bloc clarify its stance on Kiev’s eventual accession.

“The Ukrainian leaders are realists and know that a country that is at war will not be accepted into NATO,” Siemoniak said, while stressing that Kiev should keep receiving Western support. 

“Documents and declarations alone will not defend Ukraine, so I think that the prospect of membership will be shown,” he said.

Earlier this week, news website Politico published a joint letter signed by over 60 international foreign policy experts, who voiced concerns over Ukraine’s potential NATO membership and called on the bloc to avoid advancing Kiev’s bid at the upcoming summit, claiming it would endanger the US and its allies and rupture the coalition.

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“The closer NATO comes to promising that Ukraine will join the alliance once the war ends, the greater the incentive for Russia to keep fighting the war,” the letter read, adding that “the challenges Russia poses can be managed without bringing Ukraine into NATO.”

In recent weeks, a number of NATO officials have indicated that Kiev is unlikely to receive a formal invitation to join the US-led bloc during the upcoming summit, and according to former British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, can only hope for a strong declaration of support.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has also said Ukraine cannot join the bloc while it is embroiled in conflict, noting that such a move would trigger a direct clash with Russia.

Moscow has cited Kiev’s ambitions to join NATO and the bloc’s eastward expansion as one of the reasons for launching its campaign against Ukraine in 2022.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Russia would be ready to launch peace talks with Ukraine immediately if it were to withdraw from its four former regions and commit to neutrality. Both Kiev and its Western backers have rejected the offer.

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