Ukraine’s minister of defense claimed in a recent interview that his country is a “de facto” member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In an interview with the BBC, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine has become an unofficial member of the organization because of the massive arms shipments it has received from NATO members. (Related: Playing with FIRE: US to send Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine.)
“Ukraine as a country, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, became [a] member of NATO. De facto, not de jure [by law]. Because we have weaponry, and the understanding of how to use it.”
Reznikov added that he is certain his country will receive the additional weapons it has been lobbying NATO for months to provide, including tanks and fighter jets, as both Ukraine and Russia are gearing up for new offensives this coming spring as part of a new phase in this protracted conflict.
“This concern about the next level of escalation, for me, is some kind of protocol,” he said.
Reznikov’s admission essentially confirmed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims right before the beginning of his country’s special military operation that he was trying to prevent NATO from expanding further east.
Other Russian figures have been arguing since the beginning of the conflict that the country’s fight is not just with Ukraine but with NATO, as it views the West’s provision of military aid to Ukraine as an act of aggression that will threaten the strength and continued existence of Russia.
When asked if he feels concerned about claiming that Ukraine is a de facto member of NATO, Reznikov pushed back by saying neither Russia nor NATO should view his comments as anything out of the ordinary.
“Why [would it be] controversial? It’s true. It’s a fact,” said Reznikov. “I’m sure that in the near future, we’ll become a member of NATO, de jure.”
Official NATO membership unlikely unless Ukraine agrees to peace with Russia
Ukraine formally applied for NATO membership in September last year and was immediately recognized by the military alliance as an aspiring member. Formal membership would require the entire military bloc to come to Ukraine’s aid in defense of its territorial integrity.
But it could take years for Ukraine to become an official member, regardless of how many billions of dollars worth of NATO weapons flood into the country.
Furthermore, NATO is unlikely to accept Ukraine while it continues to refuse to settle “ethnic disputes or external territorial disputes, including irredentist claims” through peaceful means, according to the bloc’s 1995 Enlargement Study, which laid out a set of measures that aspiring members must abide by.
This directive is a precautionary measure to prevent newly-inducted NATO members from dragging the entire organization into ongoing conflicts.
This means that NATO membership remains unlikely for Ukraine unless it agrees to come to the negotiating table with Russia.
Read more stories about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine at WWIII.news.
Watch this BBC clip featuring Reznikov’s admission that Ukraine is a de facto member of NATO.
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