Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky may be giving up on Ukraine joining NATO, a concession that could help in negotiations with Russia over its demands for ending the war.
Joining NATO has been a top foreign policy priority for Ukraine, but on Tuesday, Zelensky acknowledged it may be a pipe dream. Russia vehemently objected to Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO, as it would give the country security guarantees against Russia, and demanded it cease its pursuit of membership.
While there are implications to giving in to Russia’s demands, when it comes to negotiating NATO membership, experts believe it’s a concession Ukraine may be able to make.
“It’s clear if you read between the lines that Ukraine will never be a part of NATO,” Michael Kimmage, a professor of history at Catholic University and fellow at the German Marshall Fund, previously told Newsweek. “That’s a concession on paper, it’s not a concession in reality.”
At a Tuesday meeting with the United Kingdom’s Joint Expeditionary Force in London, Zelensky acknowledged that NATO membership was a long shot. He said Ukraine heard for years that NATO’s doors were “open,” according to the Ukrainian news outlet Trukha. However, he said Ukraine has learned the doors are “not” as open as they once thought, pointing to NATO’s refusal to close Ukrainian airspace, so Ukraine is beginning to “count on our own strength.”