Defense Sec. Austin: Ukraine May Still Join NATO Despite Warnings By Russia

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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin claimed Ukraine will probably again seek to become a member of NATO, a move Russia considers to be an existential threat to its existence.

Austin made the remarks Tuesday following a discussion in Germany with NATO allies about supplying Ukraine with more artillery and equipment to resist Russia’s ongoing military operation in the country.

“I do believe that in the future if the possibility exists, I think Ukraine will seek to once again apply to become a member of NATO, but again that’s probably a bit down the road,” Austin suggested.

Austin also added that part of America’s goal in Ukraine is “to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kind things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” 

Austin’s comments are a significant departure from assurances made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in recent weeks.

“It is clear that Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We understand that. We are adequate people,” Zelensky said in March.

“For years, we have heard about the supposedly open door, but we have also heard that we should not enter, and this is true and we must admit it,” he said of Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO, which started in 2008.

Stoltenberg said last month that “it has been clear for a long time that membership for Ukraine was not something that was imminent, not something which is relevant in the near future.”

German Chancellor Olaf Sholz assured Russia in early March that NATO membership of Ukraine was “not on the table,” which even Joe Biden allegedly acknowledged.

“I said publicly that we all know that Ukraine’s NATO membership is not on the alliance’s agenda today,” he added. “That was understood by the American president, that [was] also understood by the French president.”

“The Russians were worried about the control issue of their security. [Putin was worried] that NATO has a military setup and rockets in Ukraine targeting Russian territory. That is why we tried to make it clear that this will not occur,” he added.

Even the NATO Charter forbids Ukraine from becoming a member amid its conflict with Russia:

According to NATO:

”States which have ethnic disputes, or external territorial disputes, including irredentist claims, or internal jurisdictional disputes must settle those disputes by peaceful means in accordance with OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] principles.”

”Resolution of such disputes would be factor in determining whether to invite a state to join the [NATO] Alliance.”

Austin’s comments indicating the contrary represents a rhetorical escalation that the Biden administration must clarify for the sake of easing geopolitical tensions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed in February that Russia had “no other option” than to launch a military operation in Ukraine because of its efforts to join NATO.

Putin also previously warned the West that Ukraine joining NATO could result in nuclear war.

“Do you understand it or not, that if Ukraine joins NATO and attempts to bring Crimea back by military means, the European countries will be automatically pulled into a war conflict with Russia?” Putin asked.

And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Tuesday that NATO members like the UK and Germany fighting a proxy war with Russia by arming Ukraine with heavy weapons and coordinating military actions could warrant nuclear retaliation.

“The risks are very significant,” Lavrov said. “I do not want the danger to be artificially inflated [but] it is serious, real. It cannot be underestimated.”

This is another example of Biden surrogates actually defining America’s foreign policy agenda rather than bumbling Biden himself, resulting in conflicting messaging which contradicts NATO allies and risks a direct hot war with Russia.


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