A top Russian official has suggested that NATO might not be offering Kyiv membership yet because Poland considers western Ukraine part of its territory and intends to invade.
In an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said: “There is now an obvious desire of Poland to invade the western part of Ukraine. This is why Ukraine is not invited to NATO.”
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Since Moscow’s troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, several Russian officials have proposed that Poland wants to seize part of Ukraine, a theory for which there is no evidence. Poland has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters during its war with Russia and has not questioned its territorial integrity.
Zakharova made her comments as NATO leaders began a two-day summit in Lithuania, a meeting that is being dominated by the prospect of Ukrainian membership.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has promised the alliance will send a “clear, united and positive message” on Ukraine’s potential membership, but those comments were not strong enough to satisfy Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said it was “absurd” that a timeline for joining the alliance was not set.
While most members back Ukrainian membership in the long term, some countries, such as the United States and Germany, have said Kyiv’s application can only be seriously considered after the war ends because any moves before that would risk a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.
But Zakharova claimed the alliance and Russia are already at war.
“It is truly funny – you truly believe that NATO is already not at war with Russia – because all the fighters, mercenaries, military instructors, advisers and intelligence data are provided by NATO to the Kyiv regime,” she said in Moscow.
“NATO is certainly involved in the confrontation with Russia. We’ve been talking about this every day that with regards to Russia, they have launched a hybrid war, meaning military confrontation, sanctions, pressure, political pressure against Russia.
“And as for Ukraine, there is no Russia-Ukraine conflict. It does not exist because Ukraine is used by NATO – first and foremost by the US and Great Britain – as an instrument, as leverage to influence Russia.”
In comments reminiscent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who often rails at what he calls the “collective West”, Zakharova said Western countries “believe they have a moral right to ensure their political dominance in the world”.
“But Russia’s understanding of security matters and security guarantees is based on the understanding of international law, which includes the UN Charter and the entire package of documents developed by the UN Security Council,” she said.
“This is our understanding of how peace should be built and how the world should be built,” she added.
Regarding evidence that Russia has violated international law in the current conflict, Zakharova turned the blame on Ukraine, where thousands of civilians have died in more than 500 days of war, saying: “I agree with those who say that international law is violated in Ukraine. I truly support this statement, but the question is when the international law was violated. It was violated in 2014 when in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, they carried out an unconstitutional coup d’état.”
Ukraine’s then-president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country in February that year as mass protests were held against his government after he had pulled out of an agreement for closer political and trade ties with the European Union in favour of a closer relationship with Moscow. Days later, Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and subsequently annexed it.
“It’s not because the Ukrainian people rose above their authorities, but the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland and Baltic states united to oust Ukrainian authorities and to bring to power those who they support,” Zakharova said of what became known as the Maidan Revolution.
“It’s at that point when the international law was violated,” she insisted.
“We have been talking about it for almost 10 years. Unfortunately, the West didn’t want to talk about it because everyone would learn the truth of what they were doing in Washington,” she added.