Nine Central and Eastern European countries have given their backing to Ukraine's bid to join NATO and urged the Western alliance to provide Kyiv with more weapons to defend itself against invading Russian forces.
The statement, issued on October 2, was signed by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
The joint statement comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on September 30 that Ukraine had submitted an application for accession to NATO under an accelerated procedure.
That announcement came the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia had annexed four Ukrainian regions that are partially occupied by invading Russian forces.
Putin's declaration that Russia was annexing Donetsk, along with Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya, was viewed as a major escalation by the Kremlin.
"We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We do not recognize and will never recognize Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory," the statement by the nine leaders said.
It said the leaders "firmly stood behind the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit decision concerning Ukraine’s future membership."
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At the 2008 summit, NATO members welcomed Ukraine and Georgia's aspirations to join, but declined to provide a clear timeline for the two countries’ possible ascension.
Asked about Ukraine's NATO bid, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told U.S. TV that "any decision on membership has to be taken by consensus all 30 allies have to agree to make such a decision."
Stoltenberg also said Ukraine’s capture of the city of Lyman, which is in Donetsk, was proof that Ukrainians are making progress and able to push back against Russian forces.
"We have seen that they have been able to take a new town, Lyman, and that demonstrates that the Ukrainians are making progress, are able to push back the Russian forces because of the courage, because of their bravery, their skills, but of course also because of the advanced weapons that the United States and other allies are providing," Stoltenberg said in an interview with NBC's Meet The Press.
The best way to counter Russia's proclaimed annexation of parts of Ukraine is to continue supporting the government in Kyiv, Stoltenberg said.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, meanwhile, on October 2 announced the delivery of 16 wheeled armored howitzers produced in Slovakia to Ukraine next year. The weapons will be financed jointly with Denmark, Norway, and Germany.
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Among the nine Central and Eastern countries backing Ukraine’s bid to join NATO, four of them (Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) are stooges of the US, three (the Czeck Republic, Slovakia and Romania) are anti-Russia from the days of the former Soviet Union and the last two (North Macedonia and Montenegro) are trying to curry favour with both the US and the EU.
If the intention of Ukraine joining NATO is to involve US-led NATO directly in the Ukraine conflict, this could precipitate a nuclear war.
President Putin threw down the gauntlet to the United States and NATO when he said that he will defend the four Ukrainian regions who voted to join the motherland against any attacks with any means at his disposal, a reference to a potential use of nuclear weapons. Putin himself said he isn’t bluffing about the use of nuclear weapons.
Against the threat of catastrophic consequences from President Biden, the risk of a nuclear war is real.
However, I very much doubt that President Biden would risk the destruction of his country along with Russia in a nuclear war for the sake of Ukraine.
The alternative is then a ceasefire in the Ukraine and negotiations leading to a peaceful settlement which addresses Russia’s legitimate security concerns and guarantees the neutrality of Ukraine.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Global Energy Expert