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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Scholz sees no NATO invitation for Ukraine

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, left, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany at a news conference in Berlin on Monday.

By Christopher F. Schuetze

Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany reaffirmed support for Ukraine in a war that he said could “last for a long time,” even as he and the head of NATO underlined on Monday that Kyiv would not be invited to join the alliance at its summit next month.

“We should be prepared that the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine can still last for a long time,” Scholz said at a news conference in Berlin after meeting with the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Emphasizing that aid for Kyiv had been set aside in the German government’s new budget, Scholz added: “Germany will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Scholz and Stoltenberg held what they described as a preparatory meeting for the NATO summit to be held next month in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The two leaders both said that despite NATO countries’ support for Ukraine, the trans-Atlantic military alliance is not a party to the war that Russia initiated when it invaded in February 2022. Stoltenberg also played down the prospects that Ukraine would join the defense pact in the near future, as it has hoped it would.

“We are not discussing to issue a formal invitation — what we are discussing is how to move Ukraine closer to NATO,” Stoltenberg said, adding that “NATO’s door is open.”

For more than a decade, NATO has offered Ukraine only a vague promise that it would eventually join the alliance, but with no set timetable. Some NATO members on the alliance’s eastern flank, closer to Russia, are pushing to provide Ukraine with a strong political commitment on membership before the summit. But countries including the United States are wary of drawing the alliance into a direct conflict with Russia.

“The most urgent and important task now is to make sure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, democratic nation in Europe,” Stoltenberg said. He added that supporting its war effort was paramount because “unless Ukraine prevails, there is no issue to be discussed at all related to membership.”

Scholz also said he was pushing German weapons makers to expand their production and repair capabilities, as Ukraine’s counteroffensive gets underway and tanks and other equipment supplied by Western allies are depleted in the fighting. Last week, Germany’s defense minister, Boris Pistorius, said Germany would send another 64 Patriot missiles to Ukraine.

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