(USNewsBreak.com) – The relationship between Ukraine and NATO dates back to the 1990s, when the country joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and the Partnership for Peace program in 1991 and 1994, respectively, after gaining its independence. Since then, talks have only intensified, and Russia has held Ukraine’s involvement with the treaty organization as a sore point because it doesn’t want its neighbor to join the alliance. In fact, many analysts claim that’s likely what triggered the invasion back in February of 2022.
Russia hasn’t stopped Ukraine, though, as the nation continues to fight defensively in a war Russia began 18 months ago. Now, it appears that NATO has made a suggestion incensing Ukrainian officials.
Condition for Joining
On Tuesday, August 15, while speaking at a panel in Norway, Stian Jenssen, the NATO secretary-general’s chief of staff, suggested there might be a way for Ukraine to join the alliance — by ceding some of its territory to Russia. He said it’s not NATO’s official position, but it could be a possible solution, according to Verdens Gang, a Norwegian newspaper. Naturally, Ukraine didn’t receive the suggestion well after fighting against Russian encroachment for the past 18 months.
One of the country’s top officials lashed out, per Business Insider, calling it an “appalling indulgence of murderers.” Mihaylo Podolyak, Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, tweeted on X, formerly Twitter, about the audacity of the statement, going on a long rant about why Russia should suffer a “crushing defeat.”
Trading territory for a NATO umbrella? It is ridiculous. That means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law, and passing the war on to other generations. After all, why should Russia…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 15, 2023
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman also gave a statement, saying such a suggestion, whether “conscious or unconscious,” does nothing more than play “into the hands of Russia.”
The heated responses prompted NATO officials to speak out again, saying the alliance offers its “clear and unwavering” support to the Eastern European nation. According to VG, Jenssen himself also retracted the comments, saying he made a mistake and shouldn’t have framed it the way he did.
A Continuing Conflict
One of the main factors behind Russia’s aggressions was its desire to reclaim Ukrainian territory, which once belonged to the Soviet Union. President Vladimir Putin succeeded in annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Yet, his continued efforts to annex portions of Ukraine had stagnated until he manufactured an excuse to “free” Donetsk and Luhansk from Ukrainian “Nazi” control by invading the country in February 2022.
With the help of Western allies, Ukraine has largely succeeded in fighting off Kremlin troops and reclaiming Russian-controlled territory. In September 2022, Putin stated, “The residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson are becoming [Russian] citizens. Forever.” He has since refused to reconsider the status of these territories for negotiation.
While Ukraine has tried to join NATO since 2008, and more recently, while it continues to fight against Russian aggression, Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy agree that Ukraine should wait until the war is over to join.
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