Ukraine criticises NATO for dragging its feet on membership

Ukraine criticises NATO for dragging its feet on membership

Kiev had every right to be critical of the bloc dragging its feet on membership, the official said.

The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro- Atlantic Integration Olga Stefanishyna has criticised the alliance for its hesitation and said Ukraine has not abandoned its intention to join NATO. In an interview with El Pais on Tuesday, Stefanishyna claimed that NATO s hesitation to admit Ukraine, which received an invitation to the bloc in 2008, led to the current military conflict with Moscow and brought Russian President Vladimir Putin to where he is now. Sweden and Finland will become NATO members as soon as possible. If these countries waited another 15 years for their membership decision, they too would be in a state of war, the deputy PM claimed, referring to recent decisions by the Swedish and Finnish governments to reconsider their non-alignment policy amid Russian actions in Ukraine.

We hear the constant message that NATO doesn't want to anger Russia when there is war in my country, and thousands of civilians have been killed. Stefanishyna said that it frustrates much of society.

She added that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has every right to be critical of the frustrating messages from NATO leaders.

Moscow, which has long viewed NATO's expansion eastwards as a direct threat to its security interests, has viewed the possible accession of Ukraine as one of the main reasons for its decision to launch a military attack on the neighboring country.

Ukraine has always asked NATO nations to implement a no-fly zone over its territory, or provide it with warplanes, but the requests have been denied, prompting criticism from Zelensky. Kiev signaled earlier that it would give up its NATO ambitions and would agree on a neutral status as favored by Russia in exchange for security guarantees, which have not been officially offered so far.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Stefanishyna revealed that Kiev would submit the second part of the questionnaire to the European Union membership application this week.

She called for Western countries to prioritize strategic decisions over tactical ones by imposing the toughest possible sanctions on Moscow.

She said that when we hear about European leaders about paying Russia rubles or not being prepared to refuse gas, we treat it as a tactical loss because these countries are not strategically able to call Russia an aggressor or admit that unimaginable crimes are taking place in Ukraine.

In late February, Russia attacked the neighboring state after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

Western nations have responded to Moscow's actions by imposing harsh sanctions. The Russian government, which considers the measures unjustified and unlawful, has imposed counter-sanctions on unfriendly states. One of the countermeasures is the demand to pay for natural gas supplies in rubles.