Ukraine rejected out of hand a suggestion by a senior NATO official that it might have to cede some territories in order to bring them into the military alliance.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky, called NATO Chief of Staff Stian Jenssen’s proposal “ridiculous”.
He wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “Exchanging territory for a NATO umbrella… means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law and passing the war on to others generations.”
Jenssen said during a panel debate in Arendal, Norway earlier today: “I’m not saying it has to be like that.” But it could be a possible solution.
Ukraine’s president and other top officials have previously ruled out trading territory for peace or NATO membership, even as Russian attacks advance further west.
Zelensky recognized in June that Ukraine could not become a member of NATO before the end of the war, because membership would oblige all members to defend it in a direct confrontation against Russia.
But the comments follow some of the most devastating attacks on Ukraine’s NATO-bordering regions since the invasion began, killing three workers in the western town of Lutsk on Tuesday morning.
A man is seen near the destroyed house after the Russian missile attack, as the Russian-Ukrainian war continues in the village of Stavchany, Lviv region, Ukraine August 15, 2023
A handout photo made available by Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi shows a building on fire after a rocket attack in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine, August 15, 2023
Advisor to the Ukrainian President Mykhailo Podolyak speaks during an interview with AFP in Kiev on July 19, 2023. He brushed off the suggestion that Ukraine should give up land to join NATO
Airstrikes hit parts of Ukraine on Tuesday, including territories near NATO borders
Jenssen initially talked about the possibility of ceding territory to Russia to help end the war.
He said: “I think one solution could be for Ukraine to cede territory and in return gain NATO membership.”
Jenssen is Chief of Staff to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
He clarified that Stoltenberg, who has been unwilling to discuss possible solutions to end the war, that “it must be up to Ukraine to decide when and on what terms it wants to negotiate.”
Podolyak spoke candidly on Twitter about holding Russia accountable for its brutal invasion of Ukraine.
He wrote: “Why should Russia voluntarily abandon provocations, hybrids and traditional behaviors without losing?
“Obviously, if Putin does not suffer a crushing defeat, the political regime in Russia does not change and war criminals are not punished, war will certainly return with Russia’s appetite for more.”
“Attempts to preserve the world order and establish a ‘bad peace’ through, let’s be honest, Putin’s triumph will not bring world peace, but will bring both dishonor and war.
“This applies to any format of a new ‘division of Europe’: including under the NATO umbrella.
“So why propose the scenario of a freeze, so desired by Russia, instead of accelerating the supply of weapons?
“Murderers should not be encouraged by appalling indulgences…”
Not all agree. On July 17, a former Ukrainian presidential adviser made similarly controversial remarks about ceding territory to gain NATO support.
Oleksiy Arestovych said swapping 20% of Ukrainian territory for NATO membership for the rest of Ukraine could help end the war.
He said retaining “most of the state” and joining NATO would be a “super historic opportunity” for the country.
Arestovitch resigned from his advisory role in January after saying a Russian missile that hit a building in Dnipro was shot down by Ukraine’s air defense.
Ukraine has suffered a brutal campaign of drone attacks and missile strikes in recent weeks, with Russia striking deep in western Ukraine.
The city of Lviv, a former territory of Poland, was pounded by airstrikes on Tuesday, with officials saying it was the toughest air assault on the region since the start of the war.
Three people were killed in Lutsk – also historically linked to Lithuania, Poland and the Russian Empire – in strikes on Tuesday, and more than a dozen were injured.
Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, said on Telegram: “The daily terror of the Russians has one goal: to break us.
‘It will not happen.’
As fears grow over Russia’s perceived encroachment on Europe, allies have sought to tighten security along the borders.
Late last month, Poland moved 1,000 troops to Belarus as Belarusian soldiers were seen training with Wagner Group troops on the border.
Warsaw has made considerable efforts to strengthen its army in recent years, now ranked among the top 20 world powers according to the GFP index.
In June, the United States approved $15 billion in Patriot and missile defense upgrades for Poland.
Last year, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki urged the country to build an army “so strong it’s better not to have to fight”, deterring the enemy with “pure force”.
He announced that more than PLN 100 billion (£19.396 billion) would be allocated for army modernization in 2023 alone.
Russia views these moves as NATO-backed acts of aggression.
On July 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “Polish leaders are probably looking to form a coalition under the NATO umbrella and join the conflict in Ukraine directly, and then ‘snatch’ a larger piece for themselves. themselves, to restore their, as they believe, historical territory – present-day western Ukraine.
Poland once dominated much of Central and Eastern Europe as part of a larger Commonwealth with Lithuania and including parts of modern Ukraine.
It lost much of its territory during a period of crisis in the 18th century and was partitioned by Russia in 1772, 1792 and 1795 – spoiling relations irretrievably.
While many Poles may regret the new borders imposed by Russia after World War II, there is no serious case for Poland trying to “take back” old territories, such as Lviv.
Rescuers work in the area where a rocket hit an industrial enterprise in the Lutsk region of Volyn, western Ukraine, August 15, 2023. Three died in attacks on the city on Tuesday morning
Firefighters try to put out a fire in a building destroyed by a Russian S300 rocket attack in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, August 15, 2023
A man cleans shards from a broken window after a missile fragment hit a nearby residential building on August 15, 2023 in Lviv, Ukraine
After quitting a deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain to world markets through the city of Odessa, Russia has also hammered Black Sea ports with strikes.
On August 2, Russian drones struck grain storage facilities and port infrastructure in southwestern Ukraine overnight, bringing the conflict closer to neutral Moldova.
Six Iranian-made Shaded drones invaded an oil depot in Izmail, Odessa region, sparking a fire in industrial and port facilities that transport crucial grain exports.