Former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Ambassador Kurt Volker has claimed that NATO’s indecision over Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance encouraged Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to extend the war against Ukraine.
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During an online discussion at the Kyiv Security Forum (KSF) on July 12, Volker said that NATO’s failure to provide a clear outlook for Ukraine’s membership at the Vilnius summit was actually a green light for Putin. KSF is a platform created by the Open Ukraine Foundation, headed by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Volker stressed that no one should have expected a formal invitation from Ukraine to join NATO at this summit. The key question was whether NATO could send an unambiguous message to Putin about its intentions regarding Ukraine’s membership.
“Unfortunately, such a signal was not sent,” he noted.
Volker observed that the Vilnius summit essentially mirrored the sentiment expressed at the Bucharest summit in 2008.
“(They said) Ukraine’s future place is in NATO, but the lack of process, timelines, trust and sincerity belies those words,” he said.
Volker added that illusions about a possible peaceful coexistence with Russia have dissipated in recent years.
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He expressed concern that keeping the 2008 formula at the 2023 NATO summit would cause massive damage, as it would give Putin a chance to prolong the war indefinitely.
“We should have done the opposite – demonstrated that Putin’s ambition to revive the Russian Empire will not succeed; instead, we are inadvertently encouraging it,” Volker concluded.
NATO members gathered for the summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11-12. Delegations from Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Ukraine and Sweden were also present, in the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
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On July 11, NATO countries said in a joint statement that Ukraine would be invited to join the Alliance once all member countries agreed and the required conditions were met.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has indicated that Ukraine no longer needs to adhere to the Membership Action Plan, in effect saying that Kiev will finally be able to join the defensive alliance under a fast-track procedure .
Read also: Ukraine would strengthen NATO – Zelenskyy in Vilnius
On July 12, Zelenskyy expressed his belief that Ukraine would receive an invitation to join NATO after the war.
G7 leaders announced a new set of “security guarantees” for Ukraine, focusing on equipping the Ukrainian military to be able to deter any future Russian aggression.
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