(breitbart) – Ukraine’s defence minister has told Western media is a “de facto” NATO member and expects substantial Western weapons shipments shortly.
“Ukraine as a country, and the armed forces of Ukraine, became [a] member of NATO. De facto, not de jure (by law). Because we have weaponry, and the understanding of how to use it,” Zelensky’s defence chief, Oleksii Reznikov, said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation.
The publicly-funded broadcaster noted in its report on the interview that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has himself framed the war in Ukraine as an existential clash between Russia and NATO, and suggested that Reznikov’s comments “would be seen as controversial, not only by Russia but, perhaps, by Nato itself, as the alliance has taken steps not to be seen as a party to the conflict.”
The Ukrainian official was unmoved, however: “Why [would it be] controversial? It’s true. It’s a fact,” he insisted.
“I’m sure that in the near future, we’ll become [an official] member of NATO, de jure.”
Reznikov made his incendiary remarks at a time when leading NATO powers appear ready to significantly up the ante in their efforts to arm the Ukrainian forces, with Kyiv’s longstanding requests for Western heavy armour finally on the verge of bearing fruit.
While the Ukrainians have already been supplied with Soviet-era tanks by Western governments formerly in the Soviet sphere of influence, there has been a reluctance to send Western main battle tanks (MBTs) — with Germany, in particular, insisting that militaries which have purchased its Leopard 2 tank cannot send them on to Ukraine without their permission.
Some governments, such as Poland’s, are lobbying hard to be allowed to send some of their Leopards, while others have also expressed a willingness to do so — but only as part of a wider coalition of countries.
The British government looks poised to send a small number of its own Challenger 2 tanks — perhaps ten, reports suggest — in an effort to encourage its allies to pull the proverbial trigger on sending Leopards.
The Kremlin, for its part, insists that such Western weapons shipments “can add pain to the Ukrainian people and prolong its sufferings but principally they will be unable to solve anything [or] disrupt the process of [Russian forces] achieving the goals of the special military operation,” as it terms the war.