Zelensky’s Presence at NATO Summit Hinges on Situation in Ukraine, Ability to Leave Country: Report

© SERGEI SUPINSKYUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint press conference following a meeting in Kiev on October 31, 2019
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint press conference following a meeting in Kiev on October 31, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.06.2022
The leaders of the Western military bloc will meet in the Spanish capital on June 28-29 to discuss the alliance’s “strategic direction for the next decade and beyond.” The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is expected to be the top topics of discussion.
Ukraine will receive a formal invitation to NATO’s upcoming summit in Madrid, but whether or not President Volodymyr Zelensky will attend personally won’t be known “until the last minute” and depend on the situation at the front and whether or not he will be able to leave his country, Spain’s Europa Press has reported, citing government sources.
Earlier, NATO deputy secretary general Mircea Geoana assured reporters that Zelensky would “participate in our summit in one way or another,” and that “NATO enlargement and open-door policy” would be “an important topic of discussion.”
Along with Zelensky’s possible participation, the summit is expected to include officials from aspiring NATO applicants Finland and Sweden, and by US allies in the Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that his “realistic expectation” from the summit is that a “miracle will happen,” but that “so far, [he doesn’t] see any prerequisites for this. I mean precisely on the position of NATO regarding Ukraine.”
“Regarding the format of Ukraine’s participation in the summit, we are currently working with Spain, the host state, and are determining the optimal format, because we have certain restrictions related to travel, they have certain restrictions related to Hungary’s position. We will come up with some format, something will definitely happen,” Kuleba said.
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The Western alliance has spent more than a decade playing on Ukrainian pro-Western elites’ aspirations to join NATO, with the Bucharest Declaration of 2008 stating that the bloc’s “door will remain open to European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership,” and welcoming Kiev’s “Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.”
Ukraine is the latest Eastern European country whose leaders have aspired to NATO membership, with the Western military bloc previously incorporating the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, notwithstanding promises made to Moscow in 1990 not to expand eastward after the end of Cold War. Russia has criticized the US and its allies, and the post-coup governments in Kiev, over the Western alliance’s eastward push, saying it violates Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe principles of “indivisible security” for the region.
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