The UK will back Ukraine no matter what it decides when it comes to pursuing membership of NATO, one of Britain’s top military chiefs has said after Kiev’s envoy in London claimed the Eastern European nation could drop its long-held ambitions of joining to avoid a major conflict with neighboring Russia.
Speaking as part of an interview with Sky News on Monday, armed forces minister James Heappey weighed in on current tensions between the two former Soviet republics. Russia has repeatedly insisted that Ukraine being admitted into the US-led military bloc would be a “red line.”
“If Ukraine decides that it is going to offer that it won’t become a NATO member, we support that – that’s for the Ukrainians to decide,” Heappey said.
Similarly, “if Ukraine wanted to reserve its position and say that in the future it may want to join NATO, we would support that too because that’s what sovereignty is and that’s what we support,” the minister added.
His remarks come shortly after Kiev’s ambassador to London, Vadym Prystaiko, hinted that his country could consider not joining the military bloc if it meant avoiding a war with Moscow during an appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live.