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Ukraine foreign minister slams NATO for doing 'absolutely nothing'
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 05 - 2022

Ukraine's foreign minister said that NATO was "sidelined and doing absolutely nothing" about the Russian invasion of his country, while the EU was taking "revolutionary decisions" to help Ukraine.
The minister Dmytro Kuleba was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Fighting is intensifying around four cities in eastern Donbas, with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accusing Russia of throwing the full might of the Russian army against the cities of Liman, Popasna, Severodonetsk and Slaviansk.
Meanwhile, Russian lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill removing age limits for professional soldiers joining the military, which could pave the way for the Russian armed forces to expand recruitment.
The Russian parliament also gave preliminary approval for a bill that would allow the government to appoint new management of foreign companies that pulled out of Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.
Kuleba said NATO has done "absolutely nothing" about the Russian invasion of his country, while the EU was taking "revolutionary decisions" — a perception of the two organizations that has changed dramatically in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.
"We see NATO as an alliance, as an institution sidelined and doing absolutely nothing," Kuleba said. He pointed out that at the start of the war launched on Feb. 24, NATO was seen by Ukrainians as "a power" and the EU as an institution that only "expressed concerns".
"But the war has taken the mask off," he said. "We have seen revolutionary decisions taken by the European Union, which they themselves did not expect to take," he said.
Ukraine's "Euro-Atlantic" aspirations are enshrined in the Constitution, but the authorities now present the country's accession to the European Union as a priority.
"It must be recognized" that Ukraine will not be able to join NATO, Zelenskyy said on March 15. "I am glad that our people are beginning to understand this and to rely only on their own strength".
Ukraine and the US have strongly criticized a Russian plan to fast-track Russian citizenship for people from two southern regions of Ukraine now under their control.
The US is set to close the last avenue for Russia to pay its debts on Wednesday, making a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable.
Meanwhile, a senior Turkish official has insisted after talks with Swedish and Finnish officials that Turkey will not agree to the two Nordic countries joining NATO unless specific steps are taken to address Ankara's objections.
"We have made it very clear that if Turkey's security concerns are not met with concrete steps in a certain timeframe the process will not progress," Ibrahim Kalin said after Wednesday's talks in Ankara that lasted about five hours.
Kalin is the spokesman of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and a senior presidential aide. Turkey has said it opposes the countries' membership of NATO, citing grievances with their perceived support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party and other entities that Turkey views as security threats.
Kalin said Turkey's proposal for the two countries to lift arms export limits was met with a "positive attitude" by the Swedish and Finnish delegations. He added that talks would continue once the Nordic governments had responded to Turkey's demands.
Turkey also expects the extradition of 28 "terrorism" suspects from Sweden and 12 from Finland, Kalin said. Previously the Finnish Foreign Ministry had said that "it was agreed that the dialogue, conducted in a constructive spirit, will be continued."
In another development, the Ukrainian government denounced Wednesday a plan by Russia to grant passports to Ukrainians living in regions occupied by Russian troops, calling it a "flagrant violation" of its territorial integrity.
"The forced granting of passports to Ukrainians in Kherson and Zaporizhia is further proof of the criminal aim of Russia's war against Ukraine," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, this goal is "the seizure of Ukrainian territories for their occupation and integration into the Russian legal, political and economic sphere".
The US also denounced the Russian plan, calling it an attempt to "subjugate" the population now under its control.
The plan is "a Russian tactic to subjugate the Ukrainian people - to impose their will by force," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a press briefing, adding that the US "would strongly reject" such a project.
And Britain's minister of defense called on Russia Wednesday to "stop stealing" cereals produced by Ukraine which are intended for export. At the same time he ruled out lifting sanctions that Russia requested to avoid a global food crisis.
"I call on Russia to do the right thing in the spirit of humanity and let the grain out of Ukraine," Ben Wallace told a press conference in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart, Margarita Robles.
"Let's not talk about sanctions, let's talk about doing what is right for nations around the world," he added.
The British minister was referring to statements by a Russian deputy foreign minister, Andrei Roudenko, who on Wednesday demanded the lifting of sanctions against Moscow as a condition to avert the global food crisis that is emerging as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
Renowned for its very fertile lands, Ukraine was before the Russian invasion the world's fourth largest corn exporter and on the way to becoming the third largest wheat exporter.
But the conflict has interrupted grain crops and trade, with Russia accused by Ukraine and its Western allies of preventing exports through the Black Sea, at the risk of causing a serious global food crisis.
"Many people around the world rely on these grains for food," said Wallace, recalling that part of the Ukrainian production went to countries already suffering from humanitarian crises, such as Yemen.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has sent a protocol greeting to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to mark Tuesday's feast day for St. Cyril, a saint important to both Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
It shows the Vatican is keen to maintain cordial relations amid Russia's war against Ukraine, which Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill supports.
"These days I pray to our Heavenly Father that the Holy Spirit will renew and strengthen us in the gospel ministry, especially in our efforts to protect the value and dignity of every human life," Francis wrote. He also called for God's "gift of wisdom."
Kirill has justified the invasion on spiritual and ideological grounds, calling it a "metaphysical" battle with the West. He has blessed soldiers going into battle and invoked the idea that Russians and Ukrainians are one people.
Francis' three-sentence note to the Orthodox leader made no mention of Russia's invasion of Ukraine or even a generic appeal for peace. However, it was a protocol greeting marking a religious observance; Francis has, in his public remarks, frequently denounced the war and loss of life.
The Vatican worked for decades to improve relations that culminated in a historic meeting between Francis and Kirill in Havana in 2016.
The policy has come under increasing criticism from the head of the Polish bishops conference. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki returned from a visit to Ukraine this week and called for the Vatican to change its "naive and utopian" policy, saying it won't work in the long run.
Gadecki acknowledged that the tradition of Vatican diplomacy is to not call out aggressors, and to seek at all costs to maintain an open channel of dialogue in hope of nudging a peaceful resolution.
"But today, in the situation of war ... it is most important that the Holy See supported Ukraine on all levels and was not directed by utopian thoughts," he was quoted as saying. — Euronews

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