Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a visit by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg to the war-torn country on Thursday as a “new chapter” in relations with the military alliance.
“We welcome NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Kyiv, in Ukraine, which stands strong, free and sees the prospect of the complete liberation of our land from the Russian occupier,” he told reporters following negotiations with Stoltenberg in the capital.
“We interpret this visit… as a sign that the Alliance is ready to start a new chapter in relations with Ukraine—a chapter of ambitious decisions.”
Stoltenberg’s surprise visit to Ukraine on Thursday was his first since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of the country last February. It comes nearly 14 months into the war and as Ukraine is expected to soon launch a counteroffensive aimed at recapturing the territories seized by Russian forces throughout the conflict. Zelensky has been asking his Western allies for more weapons to assist in the fight against Russia.
Zelensky and Stoltenberg touched on four main issues during talks on Thursday. These were the eleventh meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Group at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on April 21, the supply of certain types of weapons to Ukraine, preparation for a NATO summit in Vilnius in July, and security guarantees for Ukraine while the country is not a member of the alliance.
The Ukrainian leader said that while he is grateful for an invitation to attend the NATO summit in July, he believes it is “important that Ukraine also receive a corresponding invitation.”
“There is not a single objective barrier that would prevent the adoption of political decisions on inviting Ukraine to the Alliance. And right now, when the majority of people in NATO countries and the majority of Ukrainians support the entry of our state into the Alliance, it is time for appropriate decisions. It is no longer possible to imagine the security of the Euro-Atlantic space without Ukraine, and people understand this,” Zelensky said.
Source : NewsWeek