BY TAL AXELROD
Ukraine says it should have been invited to the June summit of NATO members as it faces aggression from Russia.
During a meeting with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Secretary General Helga Schmid in Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba questioned why Ukraine was left out given spiking tensions with its eastern neighbor.
“We understand the desire of the Allies to hold their own summit to discuss Trans-Atlantic unity. There are examples of such summits, including one in Brussels, in 2017. To be honest though, we don’t understand at all how a closed-format NATO summit could be held against the background of the aggressive actions by the Russian Federation targeting Ukraine in the Black Sea region, as well against the Allies,” Kuleba said, according to Ukraine-based Unian Information Agency.
“How can you not invite Ukraine, how can you not find a format for Ukraine’s participation in the current summit?” he added.
The statement comes as Ukraine pleads for international support in the face of Russian aggression.
Moscow made international headlines earlier this year with a massive military buildup along the border with Ukraine, raising fears of an impending invasion. Russia later reduced the military’s presence, though it still left thousands of troops at the border.
There has also been a rise in violence at the border between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military.
The Ukrainian World Congress this week also pressed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to accelerate work on a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine. NATO last said in 2008 that Ukraine could one day become a member of the transcontinental alliance.
“A clear message of support for Ukraine’s MAP will serve to deter further Russian aggression. Furthermore, it will reaffirm NATO’s commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic choice of the Ukrainian people as enshrined in Ukraine’s Constitution,” Paul Grod, head of the Ukrainian World Congress, said in a statement.
The U.S. has voiced support for Ukraine’s membership in NATO but has insisted that the move must follow anti-corruption reforms in the country.