The US-led bloc would have to fight Russia if it accepts Kiev in the midst of a conflict, Andrzej Duda says
NATO’s door is open for Ukraine, but Kiev cannot join the US-led military bloc as long as the conflict with Russia continues, Polish President Andrzej Duda has said.
Speaking at the Krynica Forum in southern Poland on Wednesday, Duda recalled meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky to discuss Kiev’s future in NATO in the months preceding the bloc’s summit, held in Vilnius in July.
“From the beginning, we were of course aware that this was a very difficult issue. In particular, it’s difficult simply because there’s a war going on and we’re all well aware that a direct admission of Ukraine as a full member of NATO is out of question at this point,” he said, as cited by PAP news agency.
The Polish leader explained that due to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates that an attack on one member state triggers a response from the whole alliance, the bloc would have to join the conflict in Ukraine and fight against Russia if Kiev is admitted now.
“It was obvious that NATO countries wouldn’t agree” to such a scenario during the high-profile meeting in the Lithuanian capital, he added.
According to Duda, the aim of the summit in Vilnius was only “to open the door to NATO for Ukraine… so that Russia couldn’t hold this door with its foot.”
The Polish president declined to predict when exactly Kiev will be able to go through this “door,” but promised that Warsaw will support its neighbor on the path to NATO membership “with all our strength.”
After the Vilnius gathering, Zelensky slammed the bloc for its refusal to include a timeline for Ukraine’s membership in the final summit statement. Writing on social media, the Ukrainian leader called this omission “unprecedented and absurd,” and suggested that “indecisiveness” on the issue was a sign of “weakness” in the alliance.
The Ukrainian president eventually softened his rhetoric, describing the overall outcome of the summit as “positive.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the European Parliament last week that “Ukraine has never been closer to a membership in NATO than now” due to the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council and the removal of the requirement for a Membership Action Plan for Kiev, as agreed in Vilnius. However, he did not give a timeline for accession.
Moscow, which views NATO as a hostile bloc and vigorously opposes its eastward expansion, highlighted Kiev’s aspirations of joining the alliance as being among the main reasons for launching its military operation in February 2022.