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Ukraine's place is rightfully in NATO - Stoltenberg

During a meeting with Zelenskyy, the NATO Secretary General said, among other things, that Ukraine should find a place in the Euro-Atlantic family, and that Ukraine's rightful place is in NATO.

Ukraine's place is rightfully in NATO - Stoltenberg
Photo: Ukrainian presidential office

On 20 April, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Kyiv, the press service of the president's office has said.

"We welcome NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Kyiv, to Ukraine, which stands strong, free and sees the prospect of complete liberation of our land from the Russian occupier. We interpret this visit of the Secretary General - the first since the full-scale war - as a sign that the Alliance is ready to start a new chapter in relations with Ukraine - a chapter of ambitious decisions," Zelenskyy said at a media briefing following the talks with Stoltenberg in Kyiv.

He also thanked Soltenberg for starting his visit to Ukraine with a visit to the de-occupied cities and communities.

"The whole of Europe and the world needs a clear understanding that only Ukraine's victory will save other states and peoples from such terrible destruction, losses and deaths that Russia has brought to our land," he said.

During the meeting, the parties touched upon four main issues: the meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group in the Ramstein format on 21 April; incentives for partners to supply certain types of weapons; preparations for the NATO summit in Vilnius, to which Ukraine has been invited; and security guarantees for our country on its path to the alliance.

"The first is Ramstein, the meeting that will take place tomorrow, and the decisions we expect from our partners. First of all, it concerns the armed support of our active actions. The further our soldiers on the frontline can move, the sooner the most important thing - peace - will return to Ukraine and the whole of Europe," the president said.

Zelenskyy also asked the NATO chief to help Ukraine overcome the restraint of partners in supplying our country with long-range weapons, modern aircraft, artillery and armoured vehicles. "Slowing down the relevant decisions is time lost for peace, and it is the lives of our soldiers who have not yet received the vital amount of defence tools," he stressed.

In the context of preparations for the NATO summit in Vilnius, he noted that the meeting could become historic.

"I am grateful for the invitation to attend the summit, but it is important that Ukraine receives a corresponding invitation. There is no objective barrier that would prevent political decisions on inviting Ukraine to join the Alliance. And right now, when the majority of people in NATO countries and the majority of Ukrainians support our country's accession to the Alliance, it is time for the relevant decisions. It is no longer possible to imagine the security of the Euro-Atlantic space without Ukraine, and people understand this," the president noted.

They also touched upon the issue of providing security guarantees for Ukraine while the country is on its way to the Alliance.

"I emphasise that these security guarantees in no way replace or postpone Ukraine's membership of NATO. While the implementation of the decisions continues, security is already needed. And, as history has proven, it is necessary not only for our country, but also for everyone in Europe, for the entire free world. It was security uncertainty that fuelled the aggressor's illusions. Therefore, security certainty will become a reliable protection against the recurrence of any new aggression against our people or any other European free nation," Zelenskyy said.

He expressed confidence that together, Ukraine and NATO would continue to promote peace throughout Europe and the world.

For his part, Stoltenberg praised the bravery of the Armed Forces and the resilience of the Ukrainian people, which inspire the whole world.

He noted that he came today with a simple message: NATO stands with Ukraine.

"We stood with you after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, we stand with you in your heroic fight against Russian invaders and in defence of your country. And we will stand with you tomorrow as you rebuild your country and work for a brighter future for the Ukrainian people," Stoltenberg said.

He stressed that Russian aggression must be stopped.

He expressed his support for the peace formula initiated by Zelenskyy and said that the Alliance would continue to strengthen the Ukrainian army.

"We must ensure that Ukraine's security capabilities are as strong as possible. Ukraine should rightfully find a place in the Euro-Atlantic family, and Ukraine's place should rightfully be in NATO. And we will help. With our support, we will make this possible," he said.

Stoltenberg said that during today's meeting, the parties discussed a long-term support initiative that will help Ukraine move from Soviet-era equipment and doctrine to NATO standards and ensure full interoperability of the Ukrainian army with NATO forces.

"This is a testament to NATO's long-term commitment to Ukraine. The Alliance stands with you today, tomorrow and for as long as it takes," Stoltenberg said.

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