NATO Chief of Staff Stian Jenssen has called his words about the possibility of Russia handing over Ukraine’s territories to Ukraine in exchange for NATO membership a mistake. Earlier in the debate, he suggested that such an option could be considered as part of a larger discussion about Ukraine’s future development scenarios. However, in a subsequent interview with VG, Jenssen emphasized that these words had been uttered poorly and that only Ukraine has the right to dispose of its own territories.
“My position was part of a wider discussion about possible future scenarios for Ukraine, and I should not have spoken about it in that way. It was a mistake”, Jenssen admitted.
According to him, Kyiv should only talk about territories if there is a clear possibility of negotiations, with the important aspect being the situation on the ground and the impact on the possible outcome of the conflict. The chief of staff also emphasized that Ukraine needed reliable security guarantees.
He added that supporting Ukraine in its counter-offensive remained an important task.
“Many have noted that this is happening a little slower than they had hoped. I would still like to add a grain of optimism to that […]. We have to remember: at the beginning of the war, there were fears that Ukraine could collapse within weeks and days. This did not happen at all. They (Ukrainians – MT) showed heroic efforts against a superior power. The question now is how much territory Ukraine is able to regain”, Jensen told VG.
Ukrainian authorities reacted to Jenssen’s initial statement with outrage. A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman called the statement unacceptable. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials also emphasized that Ukraine is not ready to give up its territories to achieve peace. Zelenskyy’s adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak added that such a move would mean the defeat of democracy and support for the Russian regime.