NATO chief says 'best and strongest security guarantee' for Ukraine is Article 5

NATO chief says 'best and strongest security guarantee' for Ukraine is Article 5

Jens Stoltenberg says 'the way' to ensure Russia ends its war is membership for Kyiv

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the "best and strongest security guarantee" for Ukraine is the alliance's collective defense guarantee as allies work toward providing Kyiv with a "bridge" to membership.

"They need security guarantees. And of course, the best and strongest security guarantee will be Article Five," he said during NATO's public forum.

"So, therefore, I believe that the way to ensure that it stops is actually NATO membership," he added in reference to Russia's ongoing war.

Stoltenberg said earlier Wednesday that it is "too early to say exactly when" Ukraine will be invited to join the Transatlantic alliance, but maintained allies "are moving, together with Ukraine, Ukraine closer and closer to NATO membership."

NATO's 32 leaders and Stoltenberg are expected to sit down with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council. The joint body is a forum for Ukraine to sit with NATO allies "as equal participants to advance political dialogue, engagement, cooperation and Ukraine’s aspirations for membership in NATO."

Stoltenberg said allies will agree on Ukraine's eventual membership in a "strong message" that will be part of a NATO declaration that is expected to be released later Wednesday. He added that the alliance's plans to set up a new NATO command at a headquarters in Germany, as well as logistics hubs in eastern flank nations, which will be used to facilitate military assistance to Kyiv, are part of the "concrete actions" the alliance is taking to "move Ukraine closer to our membership."

Other steps include a "long-term pledge" to maintain aid and ongoing efforts to increase military interoperability between NATO allies and Ukrainian forces.

He acknowledged, however, that allies "didn't deliver on their promises to Ukraine" over the winter and early spring due to delays prompted by political gridlock in Washington, and "European allies not being able to deliver ammunition and the support they have announced."

"I'm confident that allies will now actually deliver. And we see that, for instance, ammunition moving into Ukraine has been significant," he added.

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