NATO must invite Ukraine, Lithuania will back its membership – minister

  • 2022-10-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The annexation of a fifth of Ukraine's territory has returned the country, which is fighting for its survival, to its pre-war position on its decision to apply for NATO membership, Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anusauskas says.

"Lithuania backs the open-door policy, therefore, Ukraine can count on our unconditional support (regarding NATO membership - BNS), even if it seems to be an unattainable goal," the minister said during a Saturday meeting of the Council of the ruling Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

In his words, negotiations and formal procedures for Ukraine's accession must start now, despite the ongoing war", Anusauskas said.

"The key thing is not the simplified NATO admission procedures applied in Sweden and Finland's case, but the consensus of 30 countries that this country (Ukraine - BNS) can be admitted to NATO and that the process itself must start, despite the war," Anusauskas told BNS. 

"In this case, Western countries cannot remain in the same position as they were before the war (...) Security guarantees for Ukraine must be increased now," he added.

The event that prompted Ukraine's decision to apply for NATO membership was Russia's annexation of its four regions on Friday, the defense minister underlined.

"On September 30, the Kremlin ruler repeated what Hitler did 84 years ago in Munich, also on September 30, when he annexed the Czech Republic's Sudetenland. Only then one dictator achieved the result through threats, and the other one did so in the 21st century by war, although it's clear that the war will not achieve any of the results the Kremlin so desires," the minister said. 

Ukraine has long expressed its wish to join NATO, but some Alliance members are skeptical about Kyiv's chances of joining the bloc.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for an accelerated NATO accession procedure on Friday, hours after Russia annexed four occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia during a ceremony in the Kremlin.

The international community considers this annexation illegal and vows to impose new sanctions on Moscow.