Visiting Ukraine, Estonian PM backs Kyiv over EU and NATO bids

KYIV (Reuters) – Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas supported Kyiv’s calls for accession to NATO “as soon as conditions allow” during a visit to Ukraine on Monday.

Kallas, whose country is a member of NATO and the European Union, had talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the northwestern city of Zhytomyr and signed a joint declaration with him condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We agree that a strong, independent and prosperous Ukraine, as part of the Euro-Atlantic family and as a member of the EU and NATO, is essential for the future of European security,” the joint declaration said.

“In the context of the NATO Vilnius Summit (in July), we agree to work together to establish a path that will help bring Ukraine closer to NATO membership and pave the way for Ukraine to join NATO as soon as conditions allow.”

Zelenskiy thanked Estonia for its defence support, but also reiterated demands for rapid deliveries of more weapons from Western allies “so that we can speed up the end of this war”.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after talks in Kyiv last week that Ukraine’s rightful place was in the military alliance but did not say when it might be able to join.

“A positive political decision is needed by the alliance on Ukraine’s accession,” Zelenskiy said after meeting Kallas.

Russia has said weapons supplies to Ukraine by NATO countries are dragging out the conflict and raising the possibility of a further escalation. It regards Ukrainian accession to NATO as a threat to its own security.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)