At NATO Headquarters, Ukrainian and Allied legislators discuss support measures and path to NATO membership

As Russia continues to step up its campaign of missile and drone attacks in its full-scale war against Ukraine, parliamentary leaders from Allied countries and Ukraine, alongside senior NATO and Allied officials, reiterated their resolve to ensure Ukraine prevails in this brutal conflict. 

“Let’s be clear. Russia must be defeated. And we must stand with Ukraine until victory,” said Polish lawmaker Michal Szczerba, President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA), adding that “we cannot allow for Ukraine fatigue. We must increase, speed up and sustain military support for Ukraine. We cannot deliver too little too late.”

The meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) brought together 27 parliamentarians from 17 Allied countries and 9 Ukrainian lawmakers at NATO Headquarters on 29 January. 

Earlier in the day, UNIC Co-Chairpersons, Oleksandr Korniyenko (Ukraine), First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, and Audronius Azubalis (Lithuania), issued a joint statement. They called on Allies “to increase, speed up, and sustain the delivery of military equipment, which Ukraine urgently needs to win.” The Co-Chairpersons stressed that these sustained deliveries would send the Kremlin a strong signal: NATO Allies will remain steadfast in their support of Ukraine’s legitimate self-defence, despite Russian claims that war fatigue is growing.

“Russia continues to ignore the laws and customs of warfare, uses terror tactics, launches missile and air strikes, and fires multiple launch rocket systems not only at military but also at numerous civilian targets in our country,” stressed Korniyenko. 

“Nevertheless, Ukraine is actively fighting for its freedom,” added Korniyenko. “We look forward to commencing practical work on shaping NATO interoperability requirements and capability packages to have them ready for Washington. Ukraine, Europe, and the world want a lasting peace, not a lingering one. That’s why our collaboration with you is crucial for security and stability, not just in Ukraine, but worldwide.” 

“Our straight stance, which supports Ukraine in every possible way and weakens Russia, is necessary, so that the war ends with the victory of Ukraine in accordance with the principles of international law and that the aggressor is made accountable for his actions and never again dares to subjugate other states, entire nations,” argued Azubalis.

Support by NATO Allies and Ukraine’s other partners is just as urgent and vital than at any other point in the war, as Russia continues to conduct massive attacks against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure and population centres. 

NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, other senior NATO officials and Allied ambassadors reassured lawmakers that, despite Moscow’s hopes, the Alliance and its individual members are committed to continuing the provision of both short- and long-term support to Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty. 

NATO and Allied representatives as well as parliamentarians alike emphasised that Allies urgently need to ramp up defence industrial production at home and find the means to bolster Ukraine’s expanding and increasingly capable domestic arms production.

Looking ahead, NATO PA and Rada members were united in their conviction that Ukraine’s membership in NATO was indispensable to enduring peace and stability in Europe. 
“Bringing Ukraine into NATO is the best way to deter future aggression and bolster European security,” argued President Szczerba. “As the President of the NATO PA, I am personally committed to help Ukraine to make it happen. I will mobilise the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and redouble our efforts to advocate for Ukraine’s membership in the NATO Alliance.”

“We believe that all NATO-Ukraine partnership mechanisms should be used, to the fullest extent, to help Ukraine further advance towards full membership as soon as possible,” the Co Chairpersons noted in their statement. “We urge Allied parliaments to initiate relevant discussions to encourage Allies, over the coming months, to take further bold strategic decisions and extend an invitation to Ukraine to join NATO.” 

The Assembly remains determined to play a role in supporting Ukraine’s further democratic consolidation and reform agenda. As part of a new package of practical measures, UNIC members elected Yehor Cherniev, Head of the Ukrainian Delegation to the NATO PA, as Rapporteur, who will update the Council on progress on Ukrainian legislative and government reforms aimed at bringing Ukraine closer to NATO.

“I know that the road to NATO is difficult and that there are five months and two weeks until the NATO Summit in Washington. We have to do everything we can in that time,” stressed President Szczerba.

To aid reforms, the Co-Chairpersons also reiterated the Assembly’s long-standing call for NATO to establish a Centre for Democratic Resilience at its Headquarters to serve as a platform for sharing resources and exchanging best practices among Ukraine, Allies and their partners.

“Despite a devastating war, Ukraine continues to implement the reforms necessary for NATO membership,” said Cherniev. “Ukraine's accession will undoubtedly strengthen the Alliance militarily, but we must also strengthen NATO institutionally.”

Participants called on Allied countries and their partners to expand and sustain sanctions against Russia, stressing, in particular, the need to adopt new measures to prevent sanction skirting.

They reiterated the need to hold Russian authorities and their accomplices, including the Belarusian regime, fully accountable for crimes of aggression as well as other war crimes, crimes against humanity and reported acts of genocide committed in Ukraine. 

UNIC members also urged Ukraine’s partners to commit fully to Ukraine’s reconstruction. “It is crucial to recognise that the long-term economic benefits for all stakeholders involved in supporting Ukraine’s recovery far outweigh the up-front costs,” noted the Co-Chairpersons’ statement.

The Assembly adopted a resolution at its 2023 Annual Session in Copenhagen put forward by President Szczerba calling on Allied parliaments to develop legal frameworks to allow for the use of frozen Russian assets for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

The Assembly is institutionally separate from NATO but serves as an essential link between NATO and the parliaments of the NATO nations. It provides greater transparency of NATO policies and fosters better understanding of the Alliance’s objectives and missions among legislators and citizens of the Alliance.

UNIC was created in 1998 to bring greater transparency to the implementation of the NATO Ukraine Charter and to demonstrate parliamentary interest and involvement in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. It has since become a wider forum where members can discuss any issues of mutual concern. UNIC has played a leading role in the Assembly’s response to Russia’s renewed invasion.

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