The rapid accession of Ukraine to NATO will make the continuation of the war pointless for Russian President Putin, said the former ambassador of the United States to NATO, former representative of the United States to Ukraine, Kurt Volker.
NATO’s current policy inadvertently sends a signal to Putin to continue hostilities. “Because we say that Ukraine will become a member in the long term, but we cannot bring it into NATO while this war continues. This is an incentive for Putin to continue the war. I really think that the time has come for us to send the exact opposite message – that Ukraine will become a member of NATO as soon as possible. This will mean that there will be no way for Ukraine to lose. Then for Putin, the continuation of this war will be pointless, and for Russia, it will be destructive,” Volker said.
Volker added that the practical implementation of Ukraine’s rapid accession to the Alliance is easier than it is believed to be. All concerns – in particular, regarding the escalation of the war, the risk of using nuclear weapons or a confrontation between NATO and Russian troops – can be resolved, the diplomat is convinced.
“It is possible to say, in particular in the format of the NATO-Ukraine Council, what Article 5 [of the Washington Treaty – ed.] will mean for Ukraine, and what steps the Alliance will take following this article to protect Ukraine. Article 5 does not contain specific obligations to deploy troops, it speaks of a collective response. We have such a collective response even now because NATO already provides training, equipment, and intelligence data to Ukraine,” Volker explained.
In addition, NATO can do more to help Ukraine – to provide more capabilities for demining, particularly maritime. This will open routes in the Black Sea, Volker stressed. Also, the Alliance can launch missions to ensure freedom of navigation in the Black Sea, which will deny Russia’s claims to the right to attack civilian vessels of third countries in international waters.
“NATO can also directly participate in the air defense of Ukraine. Providing adequate equipment is a good start, things are better now. But I think the Alliance can do more by directly helping Ukraine with air defense. From the west, Ukraine borders NATO countries, which allows the use of capabilities for air defense of large population centers or civil infrastructure facilities,” the diplomat said.
Volker noted that he was expressing a personal point of view, not the position of the US government.
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