Ukraine's NATO accession cannot begin during war: Czech President
The Czech President says Ukrainians understand that it is impossible to start the process of the country's accession to NATO amid the ongoing war.
Czech President Petr Pavel pointed out on Sunday that Ukraine's possible NATO accession process cannot begin while the country is involved in a military conflict.
"I do not think that the process of Ukraine's accession to NATO could have started while the conflict is still taking place. And the Ukrainians themselves understand that it is impossible," Pavel told the CNN Prima NEWS broadcaster.
Nonetheless, the Czech President considered that Kiev should receive guarantees that the start of the procedure will coincide as soon as the war ends.
"On the other hand, the Ukrainians should receive guarantees at the alliance's summit in Vilnius in July that as soon as the conflict ends, an intensive process of Ukraine's NATO accession will be launched," he stressed.
Pavel said that Kiev had "only one chance" for a successful spring offensive in 2023 because it was impossible to prepare another due to "objective reasons".
He considered that Russia's deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus should be considered a political signal and that the move could not be ignored.
A few weeks ago, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that Ukrainian troops launched an offensive in five sectors of the Donetsk direction on June 4 but failed to achieve their goals.
Pavel's statements echoed those of United States President Joe Biden, who stressed on Saturday that Ukraine is obligated to "meet the same standards" in order to join the NATO alliance, claiming that the US will not be making any special arrangements for Kiev.
On his part, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that the military alliance's officials hope to conduct the first session of a NATO-Ukraine Council with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month.
According to Stoltenberg, the summit would provide Kiev with a more equitable place at the table "to consult and decide on security issues."
However, the NATO chief noted that, while NATO will strengthen political connections with Ukraine during the summit, there will be no discussion of Kiev's membership.
Last week, Ihor Zhovkva, Deputy Head of the Office of the Ukrainian President, said 20 NATO member countries have supported Ukraine's membership in the US-led military alliance, pending the approval, if any, of the remaining states.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry had said NATO will provide Ukraine with a road map to join the military alliance during the upcoming Vilnius summit held by the alliance, but the Eastern European country will only be eligible one to two years after the end of the war.
US envoy to NATO Julianne Smith also told Politico that "a proper invitation" to Ukraine into NATO is "unlikely" as long as the war in Ukraine is ongoing.
Nonetheless, Smith stated that the bloc still intended to convey a message to Kiev that it was committed to continuing to assist it in the long run, adding that NATO has an "array of options" to do so.
NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana revealed that there was currently no consensus within the alliance on Ukraine's entry into the bloc.
In September 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Ukraine was applying to be fast-tracked to join NATO.
Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has previously pointed out that Moscow was closely monitoring the situation, recalling that Kiev's orientation toward the alliance was one of the reasons for the start of the war in Ukraine last year.