Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be in Brussels, Belgium November 27-29, to attend the NATO foreign ministers meeting, including the first foreign ministers meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, the State Dept. announced on Saturday.
On September 30, 2022, following Russia’s annexation of Southern and Eastern Ukraine, Ukraine formally applied to join NATO.
According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Ukraine will be invited to join the bloc after all preconditions are fulfilled and after all allies achieve a consensus. The fulfillment of the preconditions will be assessed by NATO member states.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy last July that Turkey supports Ukraine’s NATO membership aspirations, thus removing the only possible obstacle for Ukraine’s acceptance. But Erdogan is not the most reliable player in Europe, and could change his mind should it fit his political needs.
Secretary General Stoltenberg visited Kiev on September 28 and underscored NATO’s powerful support for Ukraine in talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government. Calling Kiev “a city with a special place in the hearts of the free world,” Stoltenberg praised the heroism of the Ukrainian armed forces and said Ukraine is “gradually gaining ground” in its counter-offensive.
“Ukrainians are fighting for their families, their future, their freedom; Moscow is fighting for imperial delusions,” Stoltenberg told President Zelenskyy. “The stronger Ukraine becomes, the closer we come to ending Russia’s aggression. Russia could lay down arms and end its war today; Ukraine does not have that option. Ukraine’s surrender would not mean peace, it would mean a brutal Russian occupation. Peace at any price would be no peace at all. Ukraine needs a just and sustainable peace.”
During his visit to Brussels, Secretary Blinken will highlight NATO’s steadfast commitment to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s aggression, emphasize support for democracy and regional stability in the Western Balkans, and discuss priorities for the Washington Summit in July 2024.
Following the July NATO Summit in Vilnius, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the member states made three steps toward Ukraine: it was decided not to demand that Ukraine fulfill the plan of action for membership in the alliance; a multi-year program of military aid to Kiev was approved; and the Ukraine-NATO council was established.
In 1999, Russia signed the Charter for European Security, affirming the right of each state “to choose or change its security arrangements” and join alliances. In 2002, President Vladimir Putin even said that Ukraine’s growing relations with NATO were no concern of Russia. But when Ukraine and Georgia, both former Soviet republics, sought to join NATO in 2008, Putin warned that their membership would constitute a threat to Russia.
In September 2013, the Kremlin warned that if Ukraine signed an EU agreement as planned, Russia would be “unable to guarantee Ukraine’s independence.” In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych canceled the association agreement with the EU, opting instead for closer ties to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. This coerced withdrawal triggered a wave of protests, which eventually resulted in Zelenskyy’s election.