NATO boss comments on whether Ukraine will join US-led bloc

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By Jonny Tickle 

NATO member states are yet to reach a consensus on Ukraine’s possible accession to the organization, despite Kiev’s determination to be admitted into the American-led bloc, its Secretary-General revealed in an interview on Sunday.

Speaking to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Jens Stoltenberg explained that his organization has strengthened its partnership with Kiev, but the group is not ready to accept Ukraine as a member.

“To be a NATO member, you need to meet the NATO standards,” Stoltenberg said. “We help them with organizing fighting corruption, but 30 allies have to agree, and we do not have a consensus agreement in NATO now on inviting Ukraine into becoming a full member.”

READ MORE: NATO’s reluctance to admit Ukraine into transatlantic alliance is sign that Russia is ‘increasing its clout,’ Zelensky complains

Accession is one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s flagship foreign policy aims, and he has been working on achieving accession ever since his election in 2019. Although Kiev and Brussels have a very close relationship, there are still many obstacles to Ukraine’s ambition of becoming a full member, including its low level of economic development, issues with corruption and the ongoing war in Donbass. NATO also has a ban on admitting members with unresolved territorial disputes.

Speaking to The Washington Post in August this year, Zelensky dismissed suggestions that Ukraine is too corrupt. He said he believes that NATO’s refusal to invite Kiev to the organization is “a signal to other countries” that they are not welcome into the club.

“It’s very popular to accuse Ukraine of corruption, and it’s not that I hold these views only since I became president, but I’ve always felt offended by this,” Zelensky said. “Because you know what? No country is free of corruption.”

Despite NATO’s seeming reluctance, Kiev is convinced that membership in NATO, as well as the EU, is inevitable. Last month, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba called it a “matter of time.”

“We are actively moving towards the EU and NATO, implementing the policy direction determined by the constitution and the strategy of foreign policy action,” he told Polish media.

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