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Zelensky’s chief of staff rejects former NATO head’s proposal

Kiev will accept no compromise over lands it claims in conflict with Russia, Andrey Yermak has said

The proposal to extend NATO security guarantees to Ukraine only within territories under Kiev’s factual control may only be considered as a stepping stone to the country restoring its pre-2014 borders, according to Andrey Yermak, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff.

The senior official was asked about the idea, which former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen floated last week, during an event hosted on Monday by the Hudson Institute, a Washington DC-based think tank. Kiev seeks membership in the US-led bloc, but its ongoing conflict with Russia is a major obstacle in the eyes of several member states.

“Our principles are very clear, very strong. Any compromise with independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty [is not acceptable],” Yermak declared.

Rasmussen is aware of the position, so the idea was his personal opinion, Yermak said. The Ukrainian government is seeking security guarantees through mechanisms other than NATO’s mutual defense treaty, he added, mentioning the so-called Kiev Security Compact, which the Zelensky government proposed in September 2022. But NATO remains the world’s strongest military alliance, against which Russia has “zero chances,” Yermak asserted, explaining Kiev’s bid to join.

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Ex-NATO chief wants Ukraine to join without lost territories

The senior official went on to praise the Ukrainian army, saying that it had shown the world that the Russian military “monster” could be defeated.

“Ukraine absolutely show: not exists this monster. We stopped this monster near of the Kiev,” he told the event participants in English, adding: “Let’s finish this job.”

Russia pulled troops back from the Ukrainian capital last year, after Kiev gave a preliminary agreement to a truce, under which Ukraine would become a neutral, demilitarized nation, with the leading military powers of the world, including Russia, guaranteeing its security.

The Ukrainian government then made a U-turn and declared that victory over Russia with Western help was its only option in the conflict. The US and its allies have pledged to support Kiev for “as long as it takes” to achieve that goal.

The plan apparently hit a wall this summer, however, when Western-armed and trained Ukrainian troops failed to breach Russian defensive positions. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top general, has acknowledged that the hostilities had reached a stalemate. Zelensky’s office, however, denied that assessment and claimed the counteroffensive was progressing.

READ MORE: Ukraine will fight without US – Zelensky

Amid the battlefield attrition, the Republican opposition in the US has become increasingly opposed to providing additional billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine. Skeptical lawmakers have cited a lack of accountability for the funding, corruption scandals in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and other problems in justifying their refusal to allocate more money at the request of the White House.


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