Paul Ronzheimer is the deputy editor-in-chief of BILD and a senior journalist writing for Axel Springer, the parent company of POLITICO.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has warned European allies it would be « suicidal » not to accept Ukraine into NATO after the war with Russia ends.
Kuleba’s comments precede a NATO summit in mid-July, when Kiev’s membership application will be the most politically sensitive talking point. Ukraine is trying to get a commitment from the defense alliance about its NATO aspirations, but a number of allies say serious discussion of Ukraine in NATO can only happen after Russian forces are no longer on its soil.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on June 22 that the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11 and 12 should focus on strengthening Ukraine’s military power instead of opening a process for Kiev to join the transatlantic alliance.
“After the end of the war, it will be suicidal for Europe not to accept Ukraine into NATO because it will mean that the option of… war will remain open,” Kuleba told Axel Springer, the parent company of POLITICO, in an interview on Friday in Kiev.
« The only way to close the door to Russian aggression against Europe and the Euro-Atlantic space as a whole is to bring Ukraine into NATO, because Russia will not dare to repeat this experience again, » said Kuleba.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a vision for Ukraine joining NATO, as well as the EU, once Kiev repels Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Ukrainian ambassador to NATO Natalia Galibarenko told POLITICO in late June that Kiev is seeking « some sort of invitation — or at least commitment … to look into the timing and modalities of our membership » at the Vilnius summit.
Kuleba in the interview dismissed Germany and others who opposed such a commitment, warning of a similar outcome at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, when Berlin and Paris rejected NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.
« Don’t repeat the mistake Chancellor Merkel made in Bucharest in 2008, when she fiercely opposed any progress towards Ukraine joining NATO, » he said.
« This decision opened the door for Putin to invade Georgia and then continue his destabilizing efforts in the region, and finally illegally annex Crimea, » Kuleba said. “Because if Ukraine were accepted into NATO by 2014, it would not be [have been] the illegal annexation of Crimea. There would be no war in Donbass, there would be no large-scale invasion,” she said.
Kuleba rejected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s claims that it will be « impossible » for Ukraine to win against Russia, saying he is « tired of opposing all these meaningless arguments ».
« It’s all just blah blah blah, » said Kuleba.