NATO chief says ‘door is open’ to Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on during a press conference at the NATO headquarters, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 in Brussels. Ambassadors from the 30 NATO nations gathered in Brussels Wednesday for emergency talks after Poland said that a Russian-made missile fell on its territory, killing two people, and U.S. President Joe Biden and his allies promised support for the investigation into the incident. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said the “door is open” to admitting Ukraine into the security alliance and that the country would one day be a member.

Stoltenberg reaffirmed the commitment to bringing Ukraine into the Western alliance and said Russian President Vladimir Putin would also have to contend with Finland and Sweden soon joining NATO after both countries applied in the wake of Russia’s late February invasion of Ukraine.

“President Putin cannot deny sovereign nations to make their own sovereign decisions that are not a threat to Russia,” Stoltenberg said in comments ahead of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest, Romania. “I think what he’s afraid of is democracy and freedom, and that’s the main challenge for him.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced he would apply for NATO membership in late September with the hope to fast-track the application process amid the ongoing war with Russia.

Ukraine is unlikely to be admitted anytime soon. Stoltenberg said last month that all 30 members of the alliance must approve and reach a consensus, while the main priority for NATO at the moment was providing support for Ukraine’s war effort.

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