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Finnish president-elect: Ukraine's NATO membership 'just a matter of timing'

by Dominic Culverwell and Francis Farrell February 18, 2024 1:55 PM 2 min read
Finland’s President-elect Alexander Stubb at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18, 2024. (Olena Zashko/Kyiv Independent)
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Ukraine’s NATO direction is clear and membership is “just a question of timing,” Finland’s President-elect Alexander Stubb told the Kyiv Independent at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 18.

Stubb said that he sees three steps for Ukraine’s  European and transatlantic aspirations. The first is security agreements that are currently being signed by all G7 members and 31 countries, followed by EU membership, and finally NATO membership.

Stubb emphasized that, since he hasn't been inaugurated yet, he was commenting on the issue in his personal professional capacity.

“In the long run, NATO membership for Ukraine is what we should strive for,” he said.

“I'm sure that we'll see language in that direction as we start moving towards the Washington summit in July (...) I think the direction is quite clear. It’s just a question of timing.”

Stubb said that President Vladimir Putin has failed to split Europe and NATO. Instead, Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has brought NATO closer to Russia’s borders, he added.

The president-elect believes Europe is “fairly permanently” divided, describing a new Iron Curtain with Belarus and Russia on one side and the rest of Europe on the other.

EU membership is a hard power that “actually functions as a protector,” Stubb said.

He confirmed that the Nordic states will join the G7 in signing security guarantees for Ukraine. So far, Finland has provided  1.8 billion euros ($1.94 billion) in military aid to Ukraine.

Helsinki approved its 22nd defense aid package to Ukraine worth around 190 million euros ($205 million) on Feb. 9.

Stubb, the former Finnish prime minister, won the presidential election on Feb. 11 in a race that focused on the country's new role as a NATO neighbor of Russia. He will be inaugurated on March 1.

Throughout his campaign, Stubb promised unconditional support for Ukraine and called for greater NATO partnership among European allies.

Finland became the 31st member of NATO in April 2023, citing the international alliance as being "the only effective security guarantee in the region" amid Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Zelensky in Munich: ‘If Ukraine left alone, Russia will destroy us’
“Keeping Ukraine in the artificial deficits of weapons, particularly in a deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities, allows (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to adapt to the current intensity of the war,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
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