British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak during their bilateral meeting at the European Political Community (EPC) Summit in Bulboaca on June 1, 2023 near Chisinau, Moldova.
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U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday that Ukraine’s “rightful place” is within the NATO military alliance.
Sunak said he agreed with comments made earlier Thursday by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Ukraine is on the path toward NATO membership.
“I agree with the NATO Secretary-General: Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO,” Sunak told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro.
Sunak said that allied nations were sending a “strong signal” to Russian President Vladimir Putin that they would safeguard Ukraine’s security arrangements for the long term.
“We want to make sure that we put in place security arrangements for Ukraine for the long term, so that we send a very strong signal to Vladimir Putin that we’re not going anywhere,” he said.
“We are here to stay and we will continuing backing Ukraine, not just now but for years into the future.”
Earlier Thursday, Stoltenberg said “NATO’s door is open for new members,” ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway.
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the London Defense Conference, at King’s College, in central London, on May 23, 2023.
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Stoltenberg said that all members agreed that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance, though he did not give a specific timeline for the enlargement.
“All allies also agree that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance, and all allies agree that it is for the NATO allies and Ukraine to decide when Ukraine becomes a member,” Stoltenberg said.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Sunak in the U.K. last month as part of a tour of Western allies to discuss the provision of further military support for Ukraine.
Following the talks, the U.K. agreed that it would send hundreds of air defense missiles and armed drones to Ukraine. It comes in addition to the Storm Shadow cruise missiles Britain announced a week earlier.
The new provisions come as Ukraine continues to prepare for a highly anticipated counter-offensive against Russia.