- Hans Weber
- December 1, 2023
NATO Chief of Staff Issues Apology for Controversial Remark on Ukraine’s Territory Exchange
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s Chief of Staff, Stian Jenssen, expressed regret over his contentious statement suggesting Kiev’s surrender of territory in exchange for NATO membership. Jenssen issued an apology on Wednesday during an interview with the Norwegian daily VG, which initially reported his remarks.
Jenssen admitted, “My comments on this matter were part of a broader discussion about potential future scenarios in Ukraine; however, I should not have phrased it in that manner. It was an error,” as reported by The Guardian.
His statement on Tuesday ignited significant controversy when he floated the idea of potentially concluding the 18-month-long conflict as part of a discussion about Ukraine’s future.
“I believe it might be a viable solution for Ukraine to relinquish territory and, in return, gain NATO membership,” he stated, a notion that drew opposition from Kiev.
Kiev’s Firm Response
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian president, dismissed the assertion as ludicrous.
“Trading territory for the shelter of NATO? This is preposterous. It implies a deliberate choice to forsake democracy, embolden global criminals, bolster the Russian regime, undermine international law, and pass the burden of war onto the next generation,” he remarked.
Podolyak contended that the only viable path is to defeat Russia. “Unless Putin faces a resounding defeat, the political landscape in Russia won’t transform, and the perpetrators of war won’t be held accountable. The conflict will inevitably resurface, with Russia harboring ambitions for further aggression,” he added.
NATO’s Efforts to Mitigate
NATO moved to ease tensions on Tuesday night, affirming its commitment to supporting Ukraine for however long necessary and striving for a just and enduring peace.
The Caveats of the Concept
Earlier on Tuesday, Jenssen acknowledged that trading territory for NATO membership wasn’t the exclusive avenue for Ukraine’s accession to the alliance. “I’m not asserting that this is the definite approach, but it could be a plausible resolution,” he clarified.
Presently, NATO cannot extend membership to nations engaged in conflict or territorial disputes, thus barring Ukraine’s immediate inclusion.
Jenssen’s proposal aimed to eliminate this obstacle. Additionally, he presumed that Russia would be deterred from attacking a NATO member state due to the prospect of facing the entire alliance in conflict.
Nonetheless, he overlooked the protracted and intricate nature of NATO membership, contingent upon a multitude of prerequisites and unanimous consent from all member countries.
The example of Sweden underscores the intricacies of this process and the potential impediments that can arise. Consequently, Ukraine might contemplate relinquishing a portion of its territory and enduring an extended period without the protective shield afforded by NATO membership.
Article by Prague Forum