Despite Kiev claiming that only NATO membership will end the risk of supposed Russian aggression in the Donbass, there are currently no plans for the country to join the US-led military bloc, the German government has announced.
Ulrike Demmer, Berlin’s deputy spokesperson, told reporters on Wednesday that the question of Ukraine’s accession to the faction was not currently on the table. “As you know, with regard to new members NATO generally follows an open door policy,” she said. “Ukraine has a right of free choice and its own political needs. However, no further steps towards its membership are currently envisaged.”
The day before, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, used a call with NATO’s General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, to say that his country’s accession to the bloc would be the only path to peace in its war-torn east. “We strive to reform our army and defense sector, but reforms alone cannot stop Russia.”
“NATO is the only way to end the war in the Donbass,” he said. Publishing a clear path to membership would, Zelensky claimed, be a “real signal for the Russian Federation.”
Commenting on Kiev’s request, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “we deeply doubt that this will help Ukraine somehow cope with its internal problem.” Instead, “from our point of view, this will further aggravate the situation,” he added.
Last week, the OSCE, an international forum that brings together countries to maintain security and stability in Eastern Europe, reported a tenfold increase in the number of violations along the demarcation line in the breakaway Lugansk People’s Republic, and warned that the situation was worsening in the neighboring Donetsk People’s Republic.
Russia accuses Ukraine of violating a tentative ceasefire, and Kiev claims the rebels, which it believes are controlled by Moscow, are responsible. Meanwhile, the US and EU have expressed concern over purported Russian troop movements near the border.
On Tuesday, Moscow officials announced that they had held emergency talks with their American counterparts to attempt to resolve the growing crisis.
“We have had contact with the US administration on the situation in the Donbass, and we have exhaustively explained to their side what is happening,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists. He claimed that Western rhetoric over Ukraine is striking an increasingly bellicose tone, and that “Washington should be concerned about the consequences of this coordinated policy.”
The Kremlin has insisted that troop movements in western Russia are not a preparation for war, with Peskov previously saying that the country’s armed forces “move around Russia in whatever direction it considers necessary to ensure the security of our country.” The presidential administration official added that the deployments are within the context of “increased activity of the armed forces of NATO countries, other associations, individual countries.”
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