US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has reacted to Ukraine's decision to file an expedited application to join NATO, saying Kiev's efforts to join the Western military alliance should be taken up “at a different time.”
Sullivan made the remarks at a press briefing on Friday, pouring cold water on Ukraine's desire to join NATO after it formally applied for membership under an accelerated procedure. “The United States has been clear for decades that we support an open-door policy for NATO,” Sullivan said.
“Any decision on NATO membership is between the 30 allies and the countries aspiring to join.”
"Right now, our view is that the best way for us to support Ukraine is through practical, on-the-ground support in Ukraine and that the process in Brussels should be taken up at a different time," Sullivan said.
On Friday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country had submitted an application for accelerated membership in NATO. The application was signed by Zelensky, chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk, and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. It came after Russia added four Ukrainian regions to its soil.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree for the formal accession of the four regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to the Russia Federation. People in those regions voted in favor of joining Russia in a referendum.
If accepted, NATO-aligned forces would formally be drawn into the war in Ukraine, pitting forces in the West against the Russian military and, potentially, escalating the conflict.
Russia has repeatedly warned Ukraine against its NATO membership proposals, calling the move “purely destabilizing.” Moscow has also warned the alliance against its further expansion towards Russia’s borders.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Sullivan said Washington has had "the opportunity to communicate directly to Russia a range of consequences for the use of nuclear weapons and the kinds of actions the United States would take."
"I have also said before we are not going to telegraph these things publicly. All I can tell you is that the Russians understand where things stand on this issue, we understand where things stand on this issue, and I will leave it at that," he stated.
Russia has already rejected as “erroneous” Washington’s assumptions about the possibility of a limited nuclear conflict, warning that any use of nuclear weapons will spark a global catastrophe.
Russia’s campaign in Ukraine was launched on February 24, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. At the time, President Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
Before sending its armed forces into Ukraine, Moscow was demanding legally binding guarantees that Ukraine would never be admitted to NATO. Since the onset of the war, the United States and its NATO allies have supplied billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry to Ukraine and imposed sanctions on Moscow.
US Congress voted on Saturday to approve $4.5 billion in additional economic assistance to Ukraine. The United States has “provided a total of $13 billion in grants to support Ukraine’s government” so far, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in a tweet.