NATO chief says Russia cannot block Ukraine’s membership

Russia does not have a veto on Ukraine’s eventual membership of the Western defensive group NATO, its chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

“All allies agree that NATO’s door remains open, that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance and that Russia does not have a veto,” he said.

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The presidents of the alliance’s eastern flank, the so-called Bucharest Nine group, met with the head of NATO in the Slovakian capital Bratislava.

The Soviet Union’s invasion of Ukraine in February of last year has energized NATO, which was established nearly 75 years ago to compete with it.

Prior to the NATO summit in Vilnius later this month, when Stoltenberg stated the alliance will make “very significant” choices, the Bratislava meetings were held.

“We will strengthen our support for Ukraine with a multi-year package of assistance to help them transition from Soviet-era to NATO standards, and bring Ukraine closer to NATO,” he said.

“We must also agree a stronger commitment to increase defence investments, with two percent of GDP as a minimum,” he added.

Additionally, Stoltenberg stated that he was “dedicated to making sure that we quickly welcome Sweden as a full member of this alliance.”

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland ended their long-standing military non-alignment and submitted applications to join the alliance.

In April, Finland formally acceded to NATO.

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