Sunday

24th Mar 2019

Rasmussen: Ukraine free to seek Nato membership

  • Nato spoke to press after an emergency meeting with Ukraine's ambassador (Photo: nato.int)

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said Ukraine is free to pursue membership of the Western alliance despite Russian opposition.

He told press in Brussels on Friday (29 August): “I’m not going to interfere in political discussions in Ukraine. But let me remind you of Nato’s decision at the Bucharest summit in 2008, according to which Ukraine ‘will become a member of Nato,’ provided of course, Ukraine so wishes and fulfills the necessary criteria”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“We adhere to the principle that each and every country has the right to decide [its foreign and security policy] for itself without interference from the outside”.

Rasmussen spoke after an emergency meeting of Nato ambassadors with Ukraine’s envoy to the Western bloc.

He also spoke after Ukraine PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier on Friday promised to pass a bill to scrap Ukraine’s non-aligned status. Yatsenyuk said the move is due to Russian “aggression” and would “resume” his country’s “course for Nato membership”.

Rasmussen noted Ukrainian accession was not discussed at Friday’s meeting.

But he corroborated Kiev’s allegations the Russian army has invaded south-east Ukraine: “Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine … This defies all efforts for a peaceful solution”, he said.

He added that some Nato states Friday pledged funds to build up Ukraine military logistics, command and control capabilities, cyber-defence capacities, and medical care for wounded soldiers.

He also said the Nato summit in Wales next week, to be attended by Ukraine leader Petro Poroshenko, “will address how we will enhance our co-operation with Ukraine”.

Despite the 2008 Bucharest declaration, there is little appetite inside Nato for Ukraine, or other aspirants, such as Georgia or Montenegro, to move closer to membership in the current security climate.

Germany and France in 2008 blocked a decision to give Ukraine and Georgia a so-called Membership Action Plan, a first step to joining Nato, despite US pressure to go ahead.

The US and Germany this week said they are ready to fight for Nato members such as Estonia or Latvia in line with the alliance’s Article V on mutual defence.

But US leader Barack Obama on Thursday made clear once again that “we are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem”. German chancellor Angela Merkel last week said Ukraine's Nato membership "is not on the agenda".

Economic sanctions

For their part, EU foreign ministers meeting in Milan on Friday and Saturday will discuss whether to impose further economic sanctions on Russia.

EU leaders in Brussels on Saturday will then decide how to go ahead, after hearing from Ukrainan President Poroshenko who is to join them late in the afternoon.

France, Germany, Italy, and the UK, as well as Nordic and Baltic states, have spoken out in strong terms on Russia’s latest escalation.

Going into the Milan meeting on Friday, Denmark’s foreign minister said: “It’s not that I think sanctions will solve all the problems. It’s that I think we [the EU] cannot allow such Russian steps without a reaction”.

But other member states, including Hungary and Slovakia, have questioned whether EU sanctions are doing anything to stop the Kremlin.

Some EU diplomats meeting in Brussels on Thursday said EU institutions should do an “impact assessment” of the sanctions war on EU economies before going further. France, despite its rhetoric, is also wary of reopening the discussion on whether to deliver €1.2bn of warships to Russia.

An EU diplomat told this website EU leaders are unlikely to agree on concrete steps immediately. “The most likely result [of the EU summit] is for leaders to task the EEAS [the EU foreign service] and the EC [the European Commission] with preparing new sanctions”, the source said.

’Video games’

Meanwhile, the latest Nato and EU statements on the crisis continued to meet with Russian ridicule.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Friday congratulated the "Militia of Novorossiya" for its "great success" in fighting Ukraine forces, using a term - "New Russia" - which refers to a territorial claim on east and south Ukraine.

His foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told press in Moscow that allegations of Russian military activity in Ukraine are "wild guesses ... facts have never been presented so far".

He described Nato satellite images of Russian armour inside Ukraine as "images from video games".

Ukraine says Russian invasion has begun

Ukrainian president Poroshenko has said Russian forces have invaded his country, with Kiev calling for an emergency EU and UN meeting.

EU leaders meet on top jobs, Ukraine

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Saturday to clinch a deal on two top posts and to discuss further sanctions on Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us