Stoltenberg dismisses Kremlin’s request for guarantees over Ukraine membership of NATO

  • 2014-11-20
  • Richard Martyn-Hemphill, RIGA

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

Nato’s new secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has rejected the Kremlin’s call for a “100 percent guarantee that no one would think about Ukraine joining Nato."

Speaking today at a press conference with Latvian President Andris Berzins, Stoltenberg suggested any call for a 100 percent guarantee from the West that Ukraine would not join Nato would represent a "fundamental violation" of Nato principles and would pose a threat to Ukraine's self-determination and national sovereignty.

“Each country has the right to decide what kind of security arrangements it wants to be a part of," said Stoltenberg, who succeeded Anders Foch Rasmussen as Nato Secretary General on Oct. 1. “It is violating the idea of respecting the sovereignty of Ukraine, which is a fundamental,” Stoltenberg said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman Dimitry Peskov first made the call for a "100 percent guarantee" when speaking to the BBC on Nov. 18 — with Peskov also expressing that Russia was "nervous" about the prospect of further Nato expansion.

But Stoltenberg, who is visiting Latvia as part of his first trip to the Baltic States as Nato secretary general, batted down claims Ukraine would be joining Nato, citing Ukraine's current "non-bloc stance", and noting that Russia should "respect that decision." Stoltenberg continued that future decisions Ukraine decides to make about the prospect of Nato membership should be respected by Russia.