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NATO military delegation visits Kyiv for first time since start of full-scale invasion

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 21, 2024 12:41 PM 2 min read
Rob Bauer, chair of the military committee at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), during a Bloomberg Television interview on the opening day of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 16, 2024. (Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of the NATO Military Committee, visited Kyiv on March 21, the first time a NATO military delegation has visited Kyiv since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

Bauer gave a speech at the Kyiv Security Forum, in which he said that his visit "is testament to the fact that NATO and Ukraine are closer than they have ever been."

"The Swedish flag will not be the only blue and yellow flag at the NATO headquarters," Bauer said.

Sweden joined NATO on March 7, after both Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in 2022, abandoning their non-alignment policy in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

"Russia’s war against Ukraine has never been about any real security threat coming from either Ukraine or NATO. This war is about President (Vladimir) Putin fearing something much more powerful than any physical weapon on earth: democracy."

Bauer also warned against pessimism about the state of the war, arguing that while "the world may have been overly optimistic in 2023, we should not make the same mistake by becoming overly pessimistic in 2024."

"Pessimists don’t win wars...with our help, Ukraine can and will prevail."

Ukraine applied for a fast-track NATO accession in September 2022 after Russia claimed the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions. Ukraine's prospects of joining the alliance while the full-scale war is ongoing remain low.

Bauer told reporters in January that civilians in NATO countries should be prepared for the prospect of an all-out war with Russia in the next 20 years.

"We have to realize it’s not a given that we are in peace. And that’s why we (NATO) are preparing for a conflict with Russia," he added.

Russian missile attack on Kyiv injures at least 13, including child
Russian forces launched a missile attack on Kyiv early in the morning of March 21, injuring at least 13 people and causing damage to homes and infrastructure throughout the city.
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