Ukraine's rapid accession to NATO will convince Russian President Vladimir Putin that the war in Ukraine has been pointless.
Source: Ukrinform, citing Kurt Volker, former US Special Representative for Ukraine and former US Ambassador to NATO, during a conference at the European Parliament
Quote: "I am convinced that today's NATO policy is inadvertently signalling to Putin to continue hostilities, because we say Ukraine will become a member in the long term, but we cannot bring it into NATO while this war continues.
This encourages Putin to continue the war. I really think the time has come for us to send the exact opposite message: that Ukraine will become a member of NATO as soon as possible.
This will mean that there is no way for Ukraine to lose. That way, continuing this war will be pointless for Putin and destructive for Russia."
Details: Volker noted that this is his personal opinion, not the US government's position.
He said the practical implementation of this intention is not as complicated as it’s believed. There are undoubtedly concerns that Ukraine's membership could lead to escalation, the risk of nuclear weapons, or a direct confrontation between NATO and Russian forces. These concerns should be considered but, Volker said, they can be addressed.
"We could talk, particularly in the NATO-Ukraine Council format, about what Article 5 [of the Washington Treaty - ed.] will mean for Ukraine and what steps the Alliance will take to protect Ukraine under this article. Article 5 does not contain a specific commitment to dispatch troops. It speaks of a collective response. We have such a collective response even now, because NATO is already providing Ukraine with training, equipment and intelligence," Volker explained.
At the same time, he pointed out that NATO could do more to help Ukraine, especially by providing mine clearance capabilities, including sea mine clearance, which would open up routes in the Black Sea.
NATO could launch missions to ensure freedom of navigation in the Black Sea, which would counter Russia's claims that it has the right to attack third-country civilian vessels in international waters. Such actions by Russia are directly equivalent to piracy.
"NATO could also get directly involved in Ukraine's air defence. Providing the appropriate equipment is a good start, and things are better now than they were.
But I think the Alliance could do more by directly helping Ukraine with air defence.
Ukraine borders NATO countries to the west, so capabilities could be used to protect large populated areas or civil infrastructure," the former US Ambassador to NATO noted.
Background: Last summer, former US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker criticised US President Joe Biden's stance on Ukraine's membership of NATO.