A group of NATO member states may decide to send their armed forces to help Ukraine if other members of the alliance do not give Kyiv effective security guarantees at the upcoming summit in Vilnius in July, former NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen has said.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would accept an invitation to the NATO summit in July only under certain conditions. According to him, this summit would be a good platform to sign documents on security guarantees for Ukraine there. Otherwise, Zelensky said, he sees no point in such meetings.
According to Rasmussen, it is crucial that Ukraine be given written security guarantees, preferably even before the summit, possibly outside NATO. These guarantees should cover intelligence sharing, joint exercises, an increase in ammunition production, interoperability with NATO standards, and the supply of weapons in quantities sufficient to deter Russia from launching new attacks, he said.
“If NATO fails to agree on a clear path for Ukraine, there is a distinct possibility that some countries will take action individually. We know that Poland is very committed to providing concrete assistance to Ukraine. And I cannot rule out the possibility that Poland will get even more involved on a national level in this context, followed by the Baltic states – quite possibly including the option of sending troops to the battlefield”, said Anders Rasmussen
Rasmussen, who serves as official advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky on Ukraine’s place in the future European security architecture, is touring Europe and the United States these days to assess the mood swings among allies ahead of a critical summit for Ukraine that opens July 11, according to the British Guardian newspaper.
“I think the Poles are ready to seriously consider taking the initiative and putting together a “coalition of goodwill” if Ukraine gets nothing at the summit in Vilnius. We should not underestimate Polish sentiment: they feel that Western Europe has for too long refused to heed their warnings about the Russian mentality”, said Anders Rasmussen.
Rasmussen’s words came amid statements by his successor as head of the North Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said that although the issue of security guarantees for Ukraine would be included in the summit agenda, according to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, NATO can ensure comprehensive security only for its full members.
Earlier, Volodymyr Zelensky admitted that Ukraine has no chance to join NATO while the war is going on. “Not because we don’t want to, but because it is impossible, – he said. – We are adequate people and we understand that we will not drag any NATO country into war”.
However, according to the Guardian, Rasmussen rejected this argument. According to him, refusing to give Ukraine a road to NATO before the end of the war would essentially mean a veto right for Putin.
According to Rasmussen, if the NATO summit does not yield results, Ukraine has the legal right to apply to member states separately for this kind of military assistance.
“After a rather slow pace, these kinds of ideas are now steadily gaining momentum”, the former NATO chief concluded.