Ukraine defence minister: We are a de facto member of NATO alliance

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Ukraine has become a de facto member of the NATO alliance, the Ukrainian defence minister says, as Western countries, once concerned that military assistance could be seen as an escalation by Russia, change their “thinking approach”.

In an interview with the BBC, Oleksii Reznikov said he was sure Ukraine would receive long-sought weapons, including tanks and fighter jets, as both Ukraine and Russia seemed to be preparing for new offensives in the spring.

“This concern about the next level of escalation, for me, is some kind of protocol,” Mr Reznikov said.

“Ukraine as a country, and the armed forces of Ukraine, became [a] member of Nato. De facto, not de jure (by law). Because we have weaponry, and the understanding of how to use it.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has framed his invasion of Ukraine as an existential battle against Western countries that want to weaken Russia.

Russian figures have argued they are fighting Nato in Ukraine, as the West has supplied the country with weapons in what they call a war of aggression.

Ukraine, for years, has sought to join the military alliance between the US, Canada and 28 European countries, something President Vladimir Putin has described as a security threat for Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pushed for fast-track accession, but it is unclear whether full membership is something the alliance members will seriously consider even after the war is over, despite pledges of support.

Photo: Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov. EPA-EFE/SERGEI KHOLODILIN / Belta

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