The presidents of 9 NATO international locations in central and japanese Europe declared on Sunday that they might by no means acknowledge the annexation by Russia of a number of Ukrainian areas. Hungary and Bulgaria had been conspicuously absent from the signatories.
In a joint assertion, the leaders additionally supported a path to NATO membership for Ukraine.
The 9 leaders demanded that “Russia instantly withdraw from all occupied territories” and inspired “all allies to considerably improve their navy support to Ukraine,” in keeping with the assertion.
“We reiterate our assist for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” they wrote.
The assertion comes two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he was annexing 4 Ukrainian areas, a transfer the West has described as an unlawful land-grab. It was signed by the presidents of Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
The signatories additionally wrote that they “firmly stand behind” a NATO resolution in 2008 over Ukraine’s future membership to the alliance. On the time, NATO allies pledged that Ukraine would ultimately grow to be a member. However as that course of stalled over time, it appeared more and more unlikely that Ukraine’s bid would grow to be a actuality.
Within the wake of the annexations, Ukraine formally utilized for a fast-track accession to NATO, with hopes to jump-start its membership bid.
On Sunday, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that 10 NATO international locations supported Ukraine’s membership to the alliance — together with many international locations that used to belong to the previous Soviet bloc.
NATO international locations nevertheless have hesitated at together with a brand new member that’s at struggle — and by treaty they might be compelled to defend. In current months, NATO has additionally welcomed the appliance of two new international locations in Europe – Finland and Sweden, spurred by safety issues after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.