This was made clear after talks between the Atlantic Alliance's Foreign Ministers

NATO seeks security guarantees for Ukraine and to conclude Swedish membership

AFP/JOHANNA GERON - El secretario General de la OTAN, Jens Stoltenberg
photo_camera AFP/JOHANNA GERON - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Foreign Ministers on Thursday discussed possible security guarantees for Ukraine that would prevent future conflicts such as the current Russian invasion of the country, and also urged the conclusion of the process of Sweden's accession to the transatlantic organisation, pending ratification by Turkey and Hungary. 

"Our focus today was on how we can bring Ukraine closer to NATO, where it belongs," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference following a meeting of allied foreign ministers in Oslo. 

He stressed that the allies are already providing Ukraine with "unprecedented assistance" and said he was confident that Ukrainian forces "now have the capabilities to liberate more occupied territory", but said that "we have to do more". 

In the run-up to the Vilnius allied summit in July, they are working on a "multi-year assistance package" with "robust funding", which will ensure "Ukraine's long-term deterrence and defence", help rebuild its security and defence sector, and support the transition from Soviet-era doctrines, equipment and training to "full interoperability with NATO". 

"Moscow thinks that democracies are lazy, that we are unwilling to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. And we are going to prove the opposite," he said.

The allies also discussed the conversion of the current NATO-Ukraine Commission into a NATO-Ukraine Council, a "significant step" according to Stoltenberg, as it would provide a joint consultative forum in which NATO and Kiev would sit "as equals" to "discuss key issues for our security". 

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PHOTO/FILE 鈥 NATO

NATO was framing its relationship with Moscow, before it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as a NATO-Russia Council. 

The ministers also discussed Ukraine's NATO membership aspirations today, with Stoltenberg stressing that "all allies agree that the door to NATO remains open" and that Russia "has no veto" over it. 

"All allies agree that Ukraine will become a member of NATO", a position that allied leaders adopted at their Bucharest summit in 2008. 

However, the politician made clear that "we all agree that the most important thing now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign and independent state". 

"We do not know when the war will end. But we must make sure that when it does, we have credible arrangements in place that will ensure Ukraine's security in the future" and "break the cycle of Russian aggression", Stoltenberg said. 

He acknowledged that the types of security arrangements to be agreed with Kiev have yet to be decided. 

"But the idea of preventing history from repeating itself by preventing President Putin from further undermining European security, that is the goal, and then we discuss the means to achieve that," he said. 

The Spanish Foreign Minister, Jos茅 Manuel Albares, said that at the meeting "it was clear that there is progress to come out of the Vilnius summit with respect to what was proposed to Ukraine in 2008" in Bucharest. 

"The world has changed. Ukraine and the relationship with NATO have also changed, and Russia's position on Ukraine is that of a war of aggression. Therefore, the message coming out of Vilnius has to be different and has to be a step ahead of what was conveyed in Bucharest," he said. 

On possible security guarantees for Kiev, he admitted that at the meeting "there have been several ideas on the table, but none of them have received support, nor have we come out with a conclusion". 

"It is something that we will continue to reflect on", he said. 

His Lithuanian counterpart, Gabrielius Landsbergis, urged the transatlantic organisation to find "a very specific, very concrete answer on how Ukraine is going to approach NATO and one day become a member of the Alliance". 

"There is an understanding that the war has to end for Ukraine to become a full member, but if we don't talk about it now, it's not fair to a country that has been waiting in the wings for a long time," he said. 

Estonian Prime Minister Margus Tsahkna said the Alliance is a "clear and solid" security guarantee for Ukraine in the aftermath of the war. 

Many of the ministers hoped that Sweden would have become a full NATO member by the time of the allied summit in Vilnius. 

In addition, Stoltenberg announced that he will travel to Turkey "in the near future" to discuss the Nordic country's membership, and welcomed the entry into force of Sweden's new anti-terrorism 

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