Published On: Tue, Nov 29th, 2022

Ukraine receives huge boost as NATO allies rally behind support for membership and Russia | World | News

Ukraine has received a huge boost after NATO and its allies reaffirmed their commitment to the war-torn country one day becoming a member of the world’s largest defence alliance. Kyiv has also been promised more help, ranging from winter aid to artillery, to help the country’s armed forced continue in their fight against Vladimir Putin and Russia

The huge boosts came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest, Romania to rally urgent support to ensure Russia fails in desperate attempts to defeat Ukraine as Putin’s men batter vital energy infrastructure.

Speaking before he chaired the crunch meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed the defence alliance’s “door is open” and insisted Russia “does not have a veto” on countries joining in reference to the recent entry of North Macedonia and Montenegro into the defence alliance

Mr Stoltenberg said Putin “will get Finland and Sweden as NATO members” soon just months after the Nordic nations applied for membership when becoming concerned Russia may target them next.

The former Norwegian Prime Minister said: “We stand by that, too, on membership for Ukraine.”

This latest commitment from the NATO Secretary-General comes 14 years after he vowed at the same Palace of the Parliament where the foreign ministers are meeting this week that Ukraine, and also Georgia, would one day join the alliance.

Mr Stoltenberg said: “President Putin cannot deny sovereign nations to make their own sovereign decisions that are not a threat to Russia. I think what he’s afraid of is democracy and freedom, and that’s the main challenge for him.”

NATO has also vowed to continue helping Ukraine in the longer-term, by upgrading its Soviet-era equipment to the alliance’s modern standards and providing more military training. This is designed to accelerate Ukraine’s membership of Ukraine in the years following the war with Russia.

Slovak Foreign Minister Rastislav Kacer said allies must combine to help Ukraine so “the transition to full membership will be very smooth and easy” once both NATO and Kyiv are ready for accession talks to take place.

READ MORE: Olena Zelenska vows Ukraine ‘will not surrender’ in speech to MPs

But it could be several years before Ukraine joins NATO as the Crimean Peninsula is still annexed, while Russian troops and pro-Moscow separatists continue to occupy large parts of the south and east.

Mr Stoltenberg warned: “We are in the midst of a war and therefore we should do nothing that can undermine the unity of allies to provide military, humanitarian, financial support to Ukraine, because we must prevent President Putin from winning.”

Several ministers pledged continued military support for Ukraine, with Slovakia saying it will provide the country with 30 armoured personnel carriers and more artillery.

During the two-day meeting, Mr Blinkin will announce significant US aid for Ukraine’s energy grid. The war-torn country’s network has come under sustained attack from Russia since early October in what US officials call a Russian campaign to weaponize the coming winter cold.

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Estonia’s foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu has called on NATO allies to pledge one percent of their GDP to Ukraine in military support, saying it would make “a strategic difference.”

But this could proveproblematic as most NATO partners are struggling to spend two percent of GDP on their own defence budgets.

Foreign ministers of NATO candidates Finland and Sweden are joining the talks, with NATO eager to add the two Nordic nations to the defensive forces lined up against Russia.

But that also faces stumbling blocks with Turkey and Hungary holding out on ratifying their applications. The remaining 28 member nations have already done so.

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