Ukraine’s Kuleba Says Some NATO Members Worried About Provoking Russia

NATO Meeting File Photo

(Article text ©2021 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 11, 2021 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/ukraine-nato-members-worried-provoking-russia/31249597.html)

Kyiv says it does not expect that next month’s NATO summit will produce a Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine because some members of the military alliance worry that such a move would provoke Russia.

“Regarding the obstacles, unfortunately, there are still several countries among the allies who are guided by the logic of not provoking Russia and believe that sitting and doing nothing is the best way to keep Russia calm,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Ukraine 24 channel on May 11.

Ukraine joining the alliance, which Moscow has fiercely opposed, “is historically inevitable,” Kuleba said. “It will happen. I am absolutely convinced of that.”

The MAP is a program of “advice, assistance, and practical support tailored to the individual needs of countries wishing to join” NATO, according to the alliance’s website.

Participation in the MAP “does not prejudge any decision by the Alliance on future membership,” it adds.

Kuleba’s comments come after Russia earlier this year deployed more than 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and in occupied Crimea — the biggest mobilization since Moscow seized the Ukrainian peninsula in March 2014 and war broke out in eastern Ukraine.

The buildup prompted alarm in Western capitals over Moscow’s intentions amid an uptick in fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists in the country’s east. The conflict has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.

Russia says its troops have returned to their permanent bases after participating in massive drills, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on May 11 that Russia had not withdrawn military hardware.

Zelenskiy told Ukraine 24 he believed Russia won’t resort to a “powerful escalation” because it could lead to “a world war.”

During a visit to Kyiv last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken “strongly” reaffirmed Washington’s “commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence,” and called on Russia to cease its “reckless and aggressive actions” against its neighbor.