U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday that Ukraine’s “rightful place” is within the NATO military alliance.
Sunak said he agreed with comments made earlier Thursday by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Ukraine is on the path toward NATO membership.
“I agree with the NATO Secretary-General: Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO,” Sunak told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro.
Britain’s prime minister said that allied nations were sending a “strong signal” to Russian President Vladimir Putin that they would safeguard Ukraine’s security arrangements for the long term.
“We want to make sure that we put in place security arrangements for Ukraine for the long term, so that we send a very strong signal to Vladimir Putin that we’re not going anywhere,” he said.
“We are here to stay and we will continuing backing Ukraine, not just now but for years into the future.”
Sunak was speaking in Moldova, where heads of state from EU and non-EU countries are gathered for the second annual meeting of the European Political Community.
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the London Defense Conference, at King’s College, in central London, on May 23, 2023.
Ben Stansall | Afp | Getty Images
Earlier Thursday, Stoltenberg said “NATO’s door is open for new members” ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway.
Stoltenberg said that all members agreed that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance, though he did not give a specific timeline for the enlargement.
“All allies also agree that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance, and all allies agree that it is for the NATO allies and Ukraine to decide when Ukraine becomes a member,” Stoltenberg said.
NATO members have been divided on their requirements for Ukraine to join the military alliance. Eastern European countries have said they want Kyiv to join as soon as possible, while many Western states have preferred to move more cautiously for fear of Russian aggression.
However, Stoltenberg said that Moscow should not be allowed to have “a veto against NATO enlargement.”
The informal meeting in the Norwegian capital comes ahead of a full NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11-12, where other topics up for discussion will be Sweden’s final accession to the group following long drawn-out resistance from Turkey.
Meanwhile, Ukraine continues to prepare for a highly anticipated counter-offensive against Russia.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Sunak in the U.K. last month as part of a tour of Western allies to discuss the provision of further military support for Ukraine.
Following the talks, the U.K. agreed to send hundreds of air defense missiles and armed drones to Ukraine. It comes in addition to the Storm Shadow cruise missiles Britain announced a week earlier.