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Ukraine should be “independent” – Stoltenberg

Ukraine should be “independent” – Stoltenberg

NATO’s Secretary General supported the talks as a way to end the conflict

NATO must continue to support Kiev in order to negotiate with Moscow on becoming an independent state, the US-led bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.

At the ceremony of Sweden’s admission to NATO, Stoltenberg repeated the bloc’s arguments about supporting Ukraine in the conflict with Russia, but decided to frame the very hypothetical peace negotiations in terms of independence and sovereignty.

“We must continue to strengthen Ukraine to show it [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin that he will not get what he wants on the battlefield, but must sit down and negotiate a solution where Ukraine will be recognized and prevail as a sovereign, independent nation,” Stoltenberg said.

According to the Norwegian politician, Putin’s goal was “less NATO and more control over your neighbors” and “destroy Ukraine as a sovereign state.” Stoltenberg insisted that Russia failed because NATO is “bigger and stronger” and Ukraine is “Closer to NATO membership than ever before.”

He did not explain how NATO membership is related to independence and sovereignty.

Sweden officially joins NATO

Stoltenberg also said that Sweden’s entry into NATO shows this “no one can close” the open door of the block they represent “the path of freedom and democracy”.

Sweden and Finland applied for the US-led bloc in May 2022, citing the Ukrainian conflict as an alleged threat to their security. Finland was accepted at short notice, but Sweden’s offer was delayed by previous disagreements with Türkiye and then with Hungary.

The Stockholm decision marked the renunciation of the policy of neutrality adopted as early as 1814, which had kept Sweden out of European and world wars.

Russia has repeatedly condemned NATO’s post-Cold War eastward expansion, saying it broke both written and spoken promises made to Moscow in exchange for allowing German reunification.

Putin cited Ukraine’s apparent bid to join the bloc as one of the reasons for launching a Russian military operation in February 2022. According to the Russian president, the US and its allies have been trying to remake Ukraine into its anti-Russian proxy since the 2014 coup in Kiev. He set Russia’s goals as ensuring Ukraine’s neutrality along with demilitarization and “denazification” from Kiev.