Ukraine can join NATO when the fighting against Russia ends, its borders are stable and it can contribute to the alliance’s security, the Czech Republic’s envoy to the alliance said.
(Bloomberg) — Ukraine can join NATO when the fighting against Russia ends, its borders are stable and it can contribute to the alliance’s security, the Czech Republic’s envoy to the alliance said.
Jakub Landovsky, Prague’s ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said historical precedent indicated that a peace accord between Kyiv and Moscow might not be necessary for membership, but that it would be up to Ukraine to decide when the war is over.
“The outright fluidity and hostility needs to end,” Landovsky said in an interview on Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry near Prague Castle. “But ultimately the only party responsible to answer the question of where the border should lie is Ukraine. Nobody from the outside can even comment on that.”
The 31-member alliance offered Ukraine in July a renewed commitment to eventually allow it to join, along with new security guarantees from Group of Seven nations. But that timeline remains unclear as NATO can’t admit new members that are at war, as it would automatically trigger their obligation to come to their defense.
Landovsky’s explanation of the criteria for membership, which includes ensuring Ukraine’s system of government matches those of its allies, comes amid a counteroffensive in which Kyiv’s forces are trying to sever Moscow’s land bridge to its heavily fortified bases in Crimea. The goal is to repulse the Russian invaders and taking back occupied territory.
While Ukrainian officials have announced new gains, particularly in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, new calls for peace talks have intensified from countries that are amplifying Kremlin messaging.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has the closest ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin among European Union leaders, urged the West to cut a “deal” with the Kremlin that shouldn’t include the return of Crimea or NATO membership.
In an interview with right-wing former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, he said Moscow surrendering Crimea was “totally unrealistic.”
Landovsky expressed surprise at Orban’s comments, particularly noting the bloody 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary and then decades of totalitarian rule that was decided not in Budapest but Moscow. He also reiterated a point made by NATO country leaders that it’s not other nations’ place to decide for Ukraine.
“The only entity that could think, conceive or talk about these things is Ukraine, by itself,” he said.
Landovsky also said he was confident that Hungary and Turkey, who are the last holdouts in approving the expansion of NATO to include Sweden, would agree in the coming months, but that the process required more time for diplomacy and consensus building.
“I’m confident it will happen in the foreseeable future, by the spring of next year,” he said.
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