Ukraine Should Show Some ‘Gratitude’ to West, Says UK Defence Secretary

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine's president, arrives on the closing day of the annual NATO Su
Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ukraine should demonstrate more “gratitude” for the support it is receiving from Western powers, Britain’s defence secretary said after President Zelesnky raged over hesitancy to admit his wartorn country into NATO.

On the second day of the summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace suggested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy should moderate his rhetoric amid reports that the White House was not pleased with him saying that it was “absurd” for the American-led military alliance to not lay out a time frame for admitting Ukraine into NATO.

“There is a slight word of caution here, which whether we like it or not, people want to see gratitude…if you’re persuading countries to give up their stocks,” Mr Wallace said according to London’s Daily Telegraph. Wallace’s comments appeared to be a clear implication that some members of the Western alliance are growing tired of Ukraine’s attitude towards assistance, which has so often manifested itself as reacting to every donation with a demand for more.

Zelensky appeared to have taken this message on board to some degree, saying following a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: “I am particularly grateful to the UK for… the decisions taken to provide our country with long-term financial support.”

For his part the leader of the United Kingdom, which has been one of the staunchest supporters of the war against Russia, said that G7 security guarantees for Ukraine “will not be a substitute” for joining Nato.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister and the president [Volodymyr Zelensky] agreed on the importance of the security arrangements to be announced by the G7 this afternoon.

“They marked a new high point in support from the international community and would give Ukraine an even greater level of endurance against Russian aggression, the Prime Minister said.

“Both agreed the arrangements will not be a substitute for Nato membership and looked forward to building on the new security framework as soon as possible.”

In lieu of establishing a timeframe for Ukrainian NATO membership, Western leaders have proposed that the embattled country be given “NATO-lite” security guarantees, with both Germany and the United States refusing to back membership into the alliance at this point.

Concerns about triggering Article 5 and potentially setting up an actual war between the world’s two major nuclear powers remains a major stumbling block for Ukrainian membership. There have also been concerns about admitting a country with contested borders given that a relatively minor territorial dispute could trigger World War three if Ukraine was admitted before coming to an agreement with Moscow.

Zelensky, with his counteroffensive widely being seen as making less progress against the Russians than desired, had expressed hope that the summit in Vilnius would pave the way for NATO membership and thereby ensure the future security of his country.

As such hopes were dashed, Zelensky said on Tuesday: “It’s unprecedented and absurd when [a] time frame is not set, neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine. It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance.”

“Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit,” he added.

While the summit may have not opened as Ukraine had hoped, others have hailed the meeting in Lithuania as a success on the back of Turkey agreeing to drop its opposition to Sweden joining NATO in exchange for the Nordic nation agreeing to support the Islamic country’s efforts to join the European Union. Sweden would become the 32nd nation to join the alliance after neighbouring Finland was accepted earlier this year.

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