Saturday

13th Apr 2024

Ukraine 'closer than ever' to joining Nato, despite war

  • Nato defence ministers met in Brussels on Thursday (Photo: nato.int)
Listen to article

When the political timing is right, Ukraine will go into Nato as swiftly as Finland and Sweden are doing, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Thursday (15 February).

"We are moving Ukraine closer to membership so that when we take the decision they can enter very quickly, as we saw with Sweden and Finland," Stoltenberg said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"An invitation will be made when all allies agree and conditions are met. We are now moving closer to that point," he added.

"Ukraine is closer to Nato membership than ever before," he said.

The two Nordic states trained alongside Nato for decades before applying to join in May 2022 in reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Finland became a member in April last year — the fastest accession process in the Western alliance's history.

Sweden is expected to join in spring, when the Hungarian parliament meets again — with Hungary the last of 31 allies to still hold a ratification vote.

Stoltenberg explained that the Ukraine war had brought Nato and Ukrainian forces closer than ever in terms of "interoperability", amid massive transfers of high-tech Western weapons systems to Ukraine, including F16 fighter jets.

He also announced the creation of a new Nato-Ukraine military academy in Bydgoszcz, northern Poland.

One flashy opportunity for Nato to invite Ukraine would be at its 75th anniversary summit in Washington in July.

But there is no sign on the battlefield that Ukraine will reconquer the territories in south-east Ukraine and Crimea annexed by Russia since 2014.

And Nato's Article V on mutual defence would pose questions on whether Ukraine's Nato entry in time of war would lead to a Nato-Russia clash.

Stoltenberg spoke after meeting Nato defence ministers and amid fears that if Russian president Vladimir Putin won in Ukraine, then he might threaten a Nato country, such as Poland or one of the Baltic states, a few years later.

Stoltenberg also spoke after US intelligence came to light that Russia was developing a nuclear-capable space weapon.

"In Nato, we're constantly exchanging intelligence between Nato allies and always monitoring all potential threats from all domains," Stoltenberg said, but declined to comment on the Russian space-weapon reports.

Speaking more broadly, he added: "We do not see any imminent military threat against the alliance".

"Nato continues to ensure there's no room for miscalculation in Moscow about our readiness to protect all allies," he said.

Some 90,000 Nato soldiers were currently holding a drill, called Steadfast Defender, "testing our ability to swiftly move forces across the alliance to defend our eastern flank," he also said.

Meanwhile, the run-up to the Washington Nato summit coincides with the run-up to US elections in November — posing other challenges for the Western alliance.

Republican US candidate Donald Trump is making headlines for his re-election campaign by saying Russia should feel free to attack Nato states which don't spend enough on their own defence.

The US House of Representatives is also still to vote on a $95bn aid package for Ukraine, raising concern in Kyiv on whether Western war-fatigue is setting in after two years of conflict.

But Stoltenberg dismissed Trump's rhetoric and said he expected the US to shortly approve the financial aid.

"I expect the US to be a staunch ally", he said.

This was because a strong Nato and a Ukrainian victory was just as important for US security as it was for Europe's, Stoltenberg said.

And there was "broad bipartisan support" for the Ukraine aid in Washington, despite the delays and Trump's statements, he added.

If Putin won in Ukraine it would embolden other authoritarian leaders, such as Chinese president Xi Jinping, who has threatened to start a war with Taiwan on America's Pacific Ocean flank, Stoltenberg said.

"What happens in Ukraine today can happen in Taiwan tomorrow, so this matters for our security and it matters for US security," he said.

Podcast

Trump, Nato, EU top jobs, migration

Strategic autonomy, Trump's belligerent Nato remarks and the consequences for EU. Also, our own Andrew Rettman on EU top jobs and the role of the radical right. Finally, third-country migration deals. Listen.

Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps

Ukraine was the biggest single recipient of international aid in 2023 for the second year in a row, but EU aid spending dropped by nearly 8 per cent, according to new data published on Thursday.

Ukraine's farmers slam EU import controls on food products

The paradoxical move to tighten EU import controls on agricultural goods from Ukraine, despite the EU's vocal support for Kyiv, has sparked criticism from Ukrainian farmers. Overall, it is estimated the new measures could cost the Ukrainian economy €330m.

Opinion

The problem of corruption in Ukraine — and a solution

Sunlight is the best disinfectant— so in a way, it is encouraging to see corruption scandals coming to the fore, as this may deter potential future graft, a key prerequisite for Kyiv's eventual EU accession.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us