As NATO’s summit approaches, former NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen has warned that some of the alliance’s Eastern European states are considering sending their troops to Ukraine if NATO does not make substantial pledges to Ukraine during the summit.
Rasmussen is also a current advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and has been encouraging Europe and the U.S. to determine the level of support that Ukraine should expect to receive at the Vilnius Summit in July.
“I think the Poles would seriously consider going in and assemble a coalition of the willing if Ukraine doesn’t get anything in Vilnius,” Rasmussen said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the Polish feelings, the Poles feel that for too long western Europe did not listen to their warnings against the Russian mentality,” he added.
The former Secretary-General noted that the Baltic States might join Poland in sending troops to Ukraine if the alliance does not make a strong enough commitment to Kyiv in Vilnius.
“If NATO cannot agree on a clear path forward for Ukraine, there is a clear possibility that some countries individually might take action. We know that Poland is very engaged in providing concrete assistance to Ukraine,” Rasmussen explained.
“I wouldn’t excuse the possibility that Poland would engage even stronger in this context on a national basis and be followed by the Baltic states, maybe including the possibility of troops on the ground,” he concluded.
Ukraine’s path to membership has been a point of contention among NATO members for the past several months. While Kyiv and other Eastern European states are eager to see Ukraine be given a concrete path to membership with a set timeline for when Ukraine will be allowed to join the alliance, some Western European states along with the U.S. disagree and think the bloc should focus its attention on the war with Russia.
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On Tuesday, a subsect of NATO’s Eastern European countries known as the “Bucharest Nine” released a statement expressing its support for Kyiv to be given a clear path to membership at the summit in Lithuania.
“We expect that in Vilnius, we will upgrade our political relations with Ukraine to a new level, and launch a new political track that will lead to Ukraine’s membership in NATO, once conditions allow,” the statement said. “We will continue our support to Ukraine on this path,” it concluded.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that France would not support full membership for Ukraine and instead called on NATO to “build something between the security provided to Israel and a full-fledged membership.”
Other NATO states, however, are continuing to push not only for Kyiv to obtain membership into the alliance but also for long-term military support and funding. During a speech in Finland on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “America and our allies are helping meet Ukraine’s needs on the current battlefield while developing a force that can deter and defend against aggression for years to come.”
“That means helping build a Ukrainian military for the future with long-term funding,” he added.
As for Macron’s stance, Rasmussen claimed that he was gaining momentum with the French president saying, “After a slow start, momentum was now building behind these ideas.” The former Secretary-General also noted that some other NATO members, including Germany, had concerns that granting Ukraine membership could be seen as a provocation by Russia leading to a direct conflict with NATO.
Rasmussen indicated, however, that he believes that the NATO member states pushing to send troops will be able to persuade the other member nations that granting Kyiv a clear path to membership is a better option.
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