MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. It will be difficult for Ukraine to become a full-fledged NATO member and its Western allies need to develop effective security guarantees for the country while it is not yet a member of the US-led bloc, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in an interview with CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.
The Lithuanian head of state asserted that Ukraine’s full-fledged membership in NATO "would be very difficult to achieve […] in the midst of this crisis." He noted that so far this is about a clear timetable or a plan for Ukraine’s membership, adding that "the doors for NATO membership are open for everybody." "We have to find some security guarantees for Ukraine not being the member of NATO," he stressed, adding that this is not an easy task but is one of the important issues of the Vilnius-hosted NATO summit this July.
Nauseda also noted that it is necessary to support Ukraine "by all means, not only militarily but also politically, economically, financially." According to him, Ukraine needs effective air defense systems. "My colleague, Vladimir Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, called many times: ‘Please, send us air defense systems’," he said, pointing out that Western support was insufficient. "And now they need tanks, also critically," he added. "And, of course, we try to do our best in order to restore this damaged energy infrastructure in Ukraine and we are sending from Lithuania our specialists, our equipment," the Lithuanian leader noted, adding that Ukraine needs energy generators and infrastructure elements which Lithuania plans to provide.
The Lithuanian president also urged that sanctions pressure on Russia be increased. According to him, the sanctions do have an impact on the Russian economy. "Sometimes, our expectations are higher […] but it does not mean that sanctions are not effective," he concluded.
The issue of Ukraine's NATO membership
On June 23, 2022, EU heads of states and governments made a decision to grant EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. The timeframe for talks on Ukraine joining the EU has not yet been defined. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen asserted that Ukraine needs to work hard and implement important reforms in order to move forward on its path to join the EU. Brussels also noted that Kiev can join the alliance only after the armed conflict on its territory is over.
The NATO summit will be held in Vilnius in July. In September, Ukraine submitted an application for accelerated accession to NATO. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that it was impossible to fast-track its acceptance since the decision on Kiev’s membership should be made by a consensus of all 30 NATO allies. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Moscow was closely monitoring the situation around Kiev’s attempt to join NATO and reiterated that Ukraine’s aspiration to join the alliance was one of the reasons for the special military operation.