Ukraine has become a “de facto” NATO member since the Russian invasion, the defense minister said.
Russia used the potential of NATO’s expansion into Ukraine as a pretext for its invasion.
But this seems to have backfired, drawing it closer to the Western military alliance.
Ukraine’s defense minister said his country is now a de facto member of NATO, dealing another blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who partly justified his invasion by saying he was trying to prevent Ukraine from moving closer to the military alliance would come.
Oleksii Reznikov told the TBEN in an interview broadcast on Friday that NATO’s support for Ukraine meant “Ukraine as a country, and Ukraine’s armed forces, were [a] member of NATO.”
Ukraine formally applied to join NATO in September, and it could be years before it actually joins, even if the war is over and existing members agree to join. But NATO members have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in arms and aid, and have embraced the country since the war began.
Reznikov also said his comments would not be controversial for NATO or Russia: “Why [would it be] controversial? It’s true. It’s a fact,” he said.
Ukraine had been trying to join the military alliance for years before the Russian invasion in February, but had not been accepted to start the process.
Putin justified his invasion of Ukraine in part by saying he feared NATO expanding to Russia’s borders, including Ukraine.
Ironically, Putin’s invasion has brought Ukraine and NATO closer together, and has also led two other European countries – Sweden and Finland – to take further steps to join the alliance.
Reznikov also noted that Western countries are now giving Ukraine their most advanced weapons to date.
This includes tanks, which Ukraine has been asking for since the beginning of the year, but which the allies had not given until recently, fearing Russian escalation in return.
Reznikov said he was sure Ukraine would get more “tanks, fighter jets or fighter jets and long-range weapons” because “things were changing” in Western countries.
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