Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK rowed back on comments which appeared to question his country’s commitment to joining the alliance.
14 February 2022
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK has rowed back from an apparent suggestion that the country could consider dropping its ambition to join Nato to avoid war with Russia.
Vadym Prystaiko said the constitutional commitment to joining Nato remained, having previously indicated the country would consider making “serious concessions” to avoid the risk of an invasion by Vladimir Putin’s forces.
Mr Prystaiko said that while Ukraine was open to negotiations with Russia, the issue of its ambitions to join the alliance was not on the table.
On Sunday night on BBC 5 Live he was asked whether Ukraine would contemplate dropping its aim of joining Nato.
He said: “We might, especially if threatened like that, blackmailed like that and pushed to it.”
The comments raised eyebrows in Kyiv and Downing Street and on Monday morning the diplomat returned to the broadcast studios to clarify his position.
“We are not a member of Nato right now and to avoid war we are ready for many concessions and that is what we are doing in our conversations with Russia,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“But it has nothing to do with Nato, which is enshrined in the constitution.”
Stressing that the commitment to joining Nato had not shifted, he pointed out that Ukraine would not be a member of the alliance by Wednesday – reportedly highlighted by US intelligence agencies as a potential day for an invasion.
“It’s not happening before Wednesday so we have to find the solution right now, we have to find the friends who will stay with us,” he said.
“We also have to work with Russia, which we are doing from now on, it’s not just the West working for us – we are having negotiations with the Russians ourselves.
“But it has nothing to do with Nato, we are talking about eastern Ukraine, we are talking about Crimea, not about Nato.”