Pentagon chief: Russia has no veto over Ukraine’s NATO aspirations

Kiev, Oct 19 (EFE).- Russia cannot veto Ukraine’s aspirations to become a NATO member, the US defense secretary Lloyd Austin said in Kiev Tuesday.

He was responding to recent statements by the Kremlin that Ukraine’s NATO membership would be “a red line.”

“No third country has a right to veto Ukraine’s NATO membership. Ukraine has a right to decide its future and its foreign policy without external intervention,” Austin said at a briefing in Ukraine’s capital along with Ukrainian defense minister Andrii Taran.

“NATO allies expressed support for Ukraine’s efforts to become a fully-fledged NATO member. We support the defense reform, which will help Ukraine to reach the membership criteria,” Austin said.

“Our support to Ukraine is unwavering and we will continue to work together to make sure Ukraine can defend itself,” he said, adding that since the start of Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2014 the US has allocated $2.5 billion to support Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukraine’s defence minister Taran said that the parties discussed collaboration under the US-Ukraine framework agreement on military cooperation, signed in August during the visit of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyi to Washington.

They discussed the issue of military cooperation in the Black Sea region and how to protect it against Russian aggression, he added.EFE


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