The conflict between Moscow and Kiev must end before Ukraine can join NATO, the Czech ambassador to the US-led military bloc, Jakub Landovsky, told Bloomberg in an interview published on Thursday.
Membership might not require a formal peace treaty between the two neighbors but Ukraine’s borders should be clear, he added.
“The outright fluidity and hostility needs to end,” the diplomat said, apparently referring to the situation on the front lines. “Ultimately the only party responsible to answer the question of where the border should lie is Ukraine,” he added. “Nobody from the outside can even comment on that.”
Ukraine’s political system must also “match” that of the bloc’s members, according to Landovsky. The diplomat added it would eventually be up to Kiev to decide when the conflict with Russia was over.
The 31-member bloc confirmed at a summit in Vilnius in mid-July that Ukraine would be allowed to join at an undetermined point in the future, but only after the conflict with Russia had ended.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky condemned NATO for what he claimed was “indecisiveness,” and pointed to the lack of a clear roadmap for accession. According to the Washington Post, those words angered the US to such an extent that it briefly considered withdrawing Kiev’s “invitation” to the bloc altogether.
A recent report by The Guardian, citing an upcoming book by US journalist Franklin Foer, claimed that Zelensky had been pressing the US into agreeing its NATO membership long before the conflict with Russia broke out.
A 2021 meeting between Biden and Zelensky allegedly ended up with the Ukrainian leader “pissing off” the US president with his demands and what Foer described as an “absurd” assessment of Ukraine’s NATO prospects.
Moscow has repeatedly stated that Ukraine’s potential NATO membership is a direct threat to Russian national security. It has also named Kiev’s neutral status as among the conditions for ending its military campaign.
Kiev has rejected Moscow’s conditions and demanded that Russian troops withdraw from all territories Ukraine considers its own, including Crimea and the four former Ukrainian regions that joined Russia following referendums in autumn 2022.
The developments come amid the continued Ukrainian counteroffensive. According to Moscow, the campaign has resulted in no major breakthroughs in the nearly three months since it began, and has seen Ukraine suffer heavy losses in both personnel and equipment.