Russia and Ukraine are reacting to Turkey lifting its weeks-long hold on Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids. Kiev views NATO opening the door for Helsinki and Stockholm as a new chance at entering the alliance. In contrast, Moscow considers the latest round of NATO expansion a threat to Russia.
The most senior representative of the Ukrainian government in Madrid for the NATO summit, Igor Zhovkva, took note of the expedited process Finland and Sweden went through and indicated Kiev could follow a similar path. “We have noted this possibility,” Zhovkva told European Pravda.
Gaining entrance into NATO typically takes years. Ukraine has been on the path to membership since 2008. However, the two Nordic countries will likely join NATO within months of expressing interest.
Zhovkva said, “Today, during the war, it is difficult to say that Ukraine does not meet NATO standards, whether in terms of strategy or tactics of military actions. Ukraine is at war not with the world’s second army but not with the weakest one. And we prove every day that we are compatible with NATO standards.”
In a separate interview, Zhovkva expressed Kiev was still seeking protection under NATO’s article five mutual defense pact. “We still think that NATO guarantees are the best ever,” he said.
After Turkey announced it was lifting its block on Helsinki and Stockholm, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters the alliance was open to growth. He said the move “sends a very clear message to President [Vladimir] Putin that NATO’s door is open.”
Moscow has reacted harshly to NATO adding two countries. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned that the move will lead to more destabilization. “We consider the expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance a purely destabilizing factor in international affairs.” He added that Moscow views further expansion as part of “aggressive containment” targeting Russia.
Ryabkov stated the Kremlin was also concerned about the forthcoming NATO document that will label Russia a threat. “A new strategic concept will be adopted, where Russia is going to be called a threat to the alliance. This has nothing to do with real life. It is the alliance that poses a threat to us,” he said.
Ryabkov stated Moscow would take “compensatory measures.” in response.