Ukraine has never been closer to NATO membership: Stoltenberg
The NATO Secretary-General claims that the military alliance does not regard China as an adversary.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has declared that the decisions made during the NATO Summit in Vilnius have brought Ukraine closer to NATO membership and affirmed Ukraine's right to determine its own course.
At a meeting of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee and security and defense subcommittee, Stoltenberg outlined three developments from the summit: a commitment to substantial funding to ensure full interoperability between Ukraine's Armed Forces and NATO, the establishment of the NATO-Ukraine Council and provision of a platform for equal meetings between NATO Allies and Ukraine, and the elimination of the requirement for a membership action plan for Ukraine, thus simplifying the membership process into a single step.
"These three things [from the Vilnius summit in July], the interoperability, the networking Council, and removal of the requirements for Membership Action Plan for Ukraine, demonstrate that Ukraine has never been closer to a membership in NATO than now," Stoltenberg said.
The NATO chief also emphasized that these three actions illustrate Ukraine's increased alignment with NATO. He reiterated that Ukraine's path to NATO membership is a matter for Ukraine and NATO Allies to decide, with no external entity, including Russia, having the authority to veto the membership aspirations of a sovereign European state.
"NATO-EU cooperation has always been important, but the war in Ukraine has made it even more important," Stoltenberg said
Regarding China, he said, "We do not regard China as an adversary, but we are concerned about the challenges that China poses to our values, to our interests, and to our security."
It is worth noting that NATO leaders crushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's aspirations for a clear schedule for joining the alliance, saying they would only extend an invitation to join if "conditions are met" at a NATO conference in Vilnius in July.
At the time, Zelensky Tweeted that there was "no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the alliance."