After 14 years, NATO renews its promise to Ukraine

BUCHAREST (AP) — NATO returned to the scene of one of its most controversial decisions Tuesday, reiterating Ukraine’s desire to one day join the largest military alliance, now in its 10th month of war against Russia. the world.

NATO foreign ministers will meet for two days in the Parliament Palace in Bucharest, the capital of Romania. It was there, in April 2008, that US President George W. Bush convinced his allies to open NATO’s doors to Ukraine and Georgia, despite strong Russian protests.

“NATO welcomes the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia for NATO membership. We agreed today that these countries should become NATO members,” the leaders said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was at the summit, assessed it as a “direct threat” to Russia’s security.

About four months later, Russian troops invaded Georgia.

Some experts see Bucharest’s decision as a big mistake, forcing Russia into a corner with the ever-expanding NATO. NATO has not pushed countries to join and some have applied for membership to seek Russian protection – as Finland and Sweden are currently doing.

After more than 14 years, NATO will this week pledge long-term support to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian air, missile and ground attacks – many of which have knocked out electricity and power grids, other civilian infrastructure and millions of people. and heat. .

“NATO will continue its support to Ukraine as long as necessary. We will not back down,” the organization’s top civilian official, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, promised last week.

North Macedonia and Montenegro have joined the US-led organization in recent years. With that, Stoltenberg said: “We have demonstrated that the door to NATO is open and that NATO allies and candidate states must make a decision on membership. This is also a message to Ukraine.

At the meeting in Bucharest, NATO is expected to pledge new non-lethal support to Ukraine: fuel, power generators, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jamming devices.

Individual allies are also likely to announce new supplies of military equipment for Ukraine – primarily air defense systems, which Kiev is desperate to protect its skies. NATO as an organization will not offer such supplies to avoid being drawn into a wider war with a nuclear-armed Russia.

But the ministers, as well as their Ukrainian counterpart Dmitri Kuleba, will also look further afield.

“In the long term, we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO standards, doctrine and training,” Stoltenberg said. This will not only improve the Ukrainian Armed Forces and help them better integrate, but also fulfill some of the membership requirements.

However, Ukraine will not join NATO anytime soon. With the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and Russian troops and pro-Moscow separatists holding parts of the south and east, it is unclear what Ukraine’s borders will look like.

Many of the 30 allies believe that now the focus should be solely on defeating Russia.

But even as economic pressure — high electricity and gas prices, as well as war-fueled inflation — mounts on many allies, Stoltenberg would not urge Ukraine to open peace talks, and indeed NATO and European diplomats say Putin does not. looks ready to come to the table.

“Most wars end with negotiations,” he said. “But what happens at the negotiating table depends on what happens on the battlefield. Therefore, the best way to increase the chances of a peaceful solution is to support Ukraine.

The foreign ministers of Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova – three partners NATO says are under increasing pressure from Russia – will also be in Bucharest. Stoltenberg said that NATO “will take additional steps to protect their independence and strengthen their defense capabilities.”


Cook reported from Brussels.

Lorne Cook and Stephen McGrath, Associated Press

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