The leaders of Europe’s Baltic states on Tuesday reiterated their support for Ukraine’s expedited NATO membership bid, insisting that Kyiv should join the military alliance as soon as its war with Russia is over.
Speaking on the first day of NATO’s two-day summit, Latvia’s Prime Minister Kri?j?nis Kari?? said that all allies were aligned on the embattled state’s ultimate membership.
“Everyone is on the same page: Ukraine will be in NATO,” Kari?? told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick.
“I’m convinced that after the war, they will be a member,” he added.
Ukraine’s accession to the alliance is one of the major topics on the agenda as NATO members meet in Vilnius, Lithuania this week.
But already Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has slammed as “absurd” the lack of a specific timeframe offered by allies for his country’s invitation of membership.
“It looks like there is no readiness either to invite Ukraine to NATO or to make it a member of the Alliance,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram Tuesday, ahead of an expected appearance at the summit.
It comes a day after NATO dropped its Membership Action Plan (MAP) requirement for Ukraine — one of the major sticking points in accession negotiations.
Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that she “understands” Zelenskyy’s frustration, but noted that no progress could be made while the war is ongoing.
“This is as far as we can get because they are in a war,” she said.
However, the Estonian leader — a fervent proponent of Kyiv’s membership bid whose country also shares a border with Russia — said that a window for accession could come as soon as Russian troops are pushed back from Ukrainian soil.
“When the moment comes when they are able to defend themselves so that Russia is pushed back to Russia, the opportunity window is there. Then, the membership can happen,” Kallas added.
NATO’s expansion has long been a point of contention for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who claims Kyiv’s accession would pose a threat to Moscow’s national security.