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Ukraine urges ‘strong’ decision from NATO at Washington summit

By Tom Balmforth

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine wants to see a “strong” decision taken at the NATO summit in Washington next month as Kyiv tries to advance its strategic goal of joining the military alliance, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s foreign policy adviser told Reuters.

Ihor Zhovkva, who spoke in an interview before traveling to Luxembourg for a European Union meeting that will formally launch accession talks for Ukraine, said that Kyiv wanted the NATO summit to end with concrete results.

“I think this summit deserves to have a strong decision, including on Ukraine. Because, I mean, if you’re having a lack of strong decisions on Ukraine, the summit will be useless,” he said in Kyiv late on Monday.

He did not specify what he thought such a decision would entail.

Zelenskiy, who unsuccessfully lobbied for a political invitation to join the alliance at its summit in Vilnius last summer, has said that this year’s summit should resolve the matter of inviting Kyiv to join.

While NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Washington have both said they do not expect the alliance’s 32 members at the July 9-11 summit to invite wartime Kyiv to join, Stoltenberg has said he hopes to show Ukraine is moving closer to membership.

Allies have been discussing possible text in the summit statement that could send that signal, such as declaring that Ukraine’s path to NATO is “irreversible.”

“We deserve a strong decision. Any decision (by) NATO takes consensus. And we all know this, and we do understand that maybe this time, consensus will be formed again (on) the last day before the summit,” Zhovkva said.

There has been no official Ukrainian government response so far to a Reuters report early on Tuesday that advisers to US presidential candidate Donald Trump are considering telling Kyiv it will only more US weapons only if it enters peace talks.

Zhovkva said the launching of accession talks on Tuesday for Ukraine to join the EU, the other major Western body it aspires to, was a “huge boost” for Ukrainians on the streets and in the trenches as the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two rages on with no end in sight.

“People are waiting now for positive decisions in terms of European integration,” he said. From Tuesday, Kyiv would see the path to EU membership as irreversible.

“It’s useless now to quarrel about how long negotiations will take, or whatever. It’s very important. The path to full-fledged membership, which Ukraine deserves… is irreversible.”

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Peter Graff)

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