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Nato countries ‘could send troops to Ukraine in coalition of the willing’ former alliance chief warns

Kyiv has long called for Ukraine to be admitted to Nato

Martha McHardy
Wednesday 07 June 2023 22:56 BST
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Ukrainians traverse flooded Kherson on dinghies after attack on dam

A number of Nato countries could send troops to Ukraine if the war-torn country is not given security guarantees at a forthcoming summit, a former secretary-general has warned.

Anders Rasmussen said that even if such guarantees were not agreed, members of the alliance would not allow the issue of Ukraine’s future Nato membership to be kept off the agenda at the Vilnius summit in July.

The comments come after Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Nato would only provide full-fledged security guarantees to full members. Kyiv has long called for Ukraine to be admitted to Nato, but member states have resisted calls out of fears of the possibility of a war with Russia.

Former Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen (EPA)

“If Nato cannot agree on a clear path forward for Ukraine, there is a clear possibility that some countries individually might take action,” Mr Rasmussen said. “We know that Poland is very engaged in providing concrete assistance to Ukraine.

“And I wouldn’t exclude 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.”

“I think the Poles would seriously consider going in and assemble a coalition of the willing if Ukraine doesn’t get anything in Vilnius,” he continued. “We shouldn’t underestimate the Polish feelings, the Poles feel that for too long western Europe did not listen to their warnings against the true Russian mentality.”

The former secretary-general claimed it would be legal for Ukraine to seek such military assistance.

Flooding caused by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine (REUTERS)

Mr Rasmussen said Ukraine should receive written security guarantees, including intelligence sharing, joint training, enhanced ammunition production, and a supply of arms sufficient to deter Russia from a further attack, ahead of the summit.

During a trip to Moldova for a gathering of European leaders last week, Rishi Sunak said Ukraine’s “rightful place” is in Nato.

Mr Stoltenberg has previously stated Ukraine will eventually become a Nato member but said the country’s membership is a “long-term perspective” for when the Ukraine-Russia war is over. Russia maintains that Ukraine’s accession to the alliance would be a “serious, significant threat to our country, to our country’s security”.

It comes after the Nova Kakhovka dam, which lies along the Dnipro river in Russia-held Kherson, was blown up on Tuesday and collapsed soon after, sending water gushing into nearby villages and towns in the region with a 42,000-strong population.

The UN said the collapse will have “catastrophic” and “far-reaching consequences” for thousands of people with the loss of homes, food, safe water and livelihoods even as Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over the incident.

Asked whether Russia was responsible, Mr Sunak told ITV: “I can’t say that definitively yet. You know, our security and military services are working through it.”

“But if true, if it does prove to be intentional, it will represent a new low. It’s an appalling act of barbarism on Russia’s part,” he added.

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