The Lithuanian president said on Monday that establishing a path for Ukraine to join NATO was “achievable,” despite the threat of reduced security by military alliance members ahead of a two-day summit this week. “Achievement goals.”
Gitanas Nauseda, speaking with CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick in Vilnius, said various interim security issues will be discussed when NATO members meet in the Lithuanian capital on Tuesday, but Ukraine added that it ultimately has its rightful place in the military alliance.
U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the U.S. was ready to provide security to Ukraine in the same way it provided to Israel, providing “the weapons and self-defense capabilities that Ukraine needs.” These comments were echoed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“It may be considered as a temporary solution towards full integration into NATO, and it is a very useful form of cooperation. But this is an alternative to full NATO membership. No,” Nauda said.
“I don’t think this is Ukraine’s ultimate goal. Ukraine’s ultimate destination is to become part of the NATO alliance,” he added.
Asked at this week’s meeting whether Ukraine would have a way to join, Nauda said it was possible.
“I think so [an] It’s an achievable goal and it’s also a very important goal,” he said.
Kiev applied for NATO fast track membership in September 2022 in retaliation to Russia after Russia announced it had annexed four regions of Ukraine during a full-scale invasion. NATO’s European expansion has long been considered a provocation by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier Monday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said NATO had scrapped the deal. Membership Action Plan (MAP) requirements for Ukraine — one of the major deadlocks in accession negotiations.
Nauseda said this would simplify and speed up negotiations, adding that Ukraine would likely receive further assistance pledges from NATO members during the meeting.
“Ukraine needs [a] “It’s a political signal, but Ukraine also needs practical help, and I think this support will be granted.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (left) and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda speak to the media ahead of the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 10, 2023.
Sean GallupGetty Images
It is not clear if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend this week’s summit, but he has previously said he will attend only if Kiev is given a “signal” to join the alliance.
But Nauseda said he hoped and expected his counterpart to show up.
“I think it’s very important to see him here in Vilnius, especially now,” he said, highlighting the heightened security risks around the east. This follows the relocation of Russian Wagner forces to Belarus following a failed mercenary group uprising just over two weeks ago.
“The security situation in our region is deteriorating. It’s not improving, it’s not even stable,” Nauda said.
“We see additional forces being deployed in the Kaliningrad region. Belarus, a close ally of Russia, is playing an increasingly important role. must be recognized.”
Another high-profile topic at the talks was Sweden, which has faced backlash from Turkey over claims that the Stockholm government has not done enough to crack down on Kurdish groups it considers terrorists. Accession negotiations are underway. Participation requires the unanimous approval of NATO’s 31 existing members.
Nauseda said he hoped to reach a settlement between Ankara and fellow opposition Hungary, perhaps by Monday evening.
“I’m still hopeful that there will be some good news for Sweden as well, maybe tonight,” he said.