Ukrainian foreign minister Kuleba says Russian aggression is pushing neighboring countries to NATO

17 January 2022, 03:03 PM

Russia’s foreign policy is a powerful incentive for its neighbors to join NATO, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with German newspaper Bild on Jan. 17.

“Paradoxically, Russia’s actions are precisely what motivates its neighbors to seek collective security as (NATO) members,” Kuleba said.

“Russia has spent decades fostering a belt of conflict around its borders, compromising its neighbors’ security in various ways,” Kuleba said.

“If Putin is curious why (Russia’s) neighbors are so eager to join NATO, he needs only to look in the mirror,” he added, referring to recent Russian demands that the military alliance roll back its infrastructure to 1997 levels.

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The minister added that the question of Ukraine’s membership of the alliance is strictly up to Ukraine itself and NATO’s 30 member states: “We made up our minds a long time ago – our aspirations of NATO membership are codified in both our Constitution and the Foreign Policy Strategy.

”The non-admission of Ukraine to NATO has been a consistent refrain from the Russian government in their recent negotiations with the United States and European powers.

“Most Ukrainians support this course (towards NATO), and this support is trending upwards,” said Kuleba.“NATO is a defensive alliance, and is not interested in dragging in or coercing new members to join,” added the minister.

Three meetings were held last week with Russia to discuss its “security guarantee” demands: with the United States, NATO, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

On Dec. 17, Russia issued these demands, expressed in two separate treaty proposals: one between Russia and the United States, and the other – between Russia and NATO.

Moscow’s position is centered around NATO pledging to cease further eastward expansion, in addition to ruling out ever admitting Ukraine into the alliance. The Kremlin also expects to see an end to arms shipments to Ukraine, military advisors and instructors to leave the country, and NATO military exercises to never again occur on Ukrainian soil.

On top of that, Putin also demanded the alliance rolls back its forces and military infrastructure from the countries that have joined NATO after 1997 – Poland, the Baltics and the Balkan members.

The treaty proposal has both sides pledging to refrain from deploying short- and medium-range missiles that could threaten their opponents, and to forego force, in favor of diplomatic dispute resolution.

Currently, over 100,000 Russian troops are estimated to be deployed on the Russian-Ukrainian border and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, reports Ukrainian intelligence.

A Russian troop build-up on the Ukrainian border was first widely reported in early December 2021, with several media outlets speculating that Russia might invade Ukraine with a force of 175,000 troops in early 2022.

The Kremlin denies gearing up for invasion, and has instead accused Ukraine of planning false flag operations, as well as of drawing up plans to use force to restore Kyiv’s control over the territories lost since 2014.

The situation on Ukraine's eastern border is a matter of deep concern for both U.S. and EU officials. According to U.S. President Joe Biden, the White House is looking at a range of options to dissuade Russia from a potential attack on Ukraine.

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