Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told BBC on Friday that Ukraine is a “de facto” NATO member since it’s equipped with so many of the alliance’s weapons and dismissed the idea that his comments were controversial.
Reznikov said he was confident that Ukraine’s Western backers would supply Kyiv with warplanes and tanks despite some concerns about escalating the war. A day later, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed he would be sending Challenger 2 tanks.
“This concern about the next level of escalation, for me, is some kind of protocol,” Reznikov said. “Ukraine as a country, and the armed forces of Ukraine, became the member of NATO. De facto, not de jure [by law]. Because we have weaponry, and the understanding of how to use it.”
Reznikov made similar comments earlier this month when he said in an interview on Ukrainian TV that his country was “shedding blood” for a “NATO mission.” His view aligns with that of Russian officials who have repeatedly stated that they are not just fighting a war against Ukraine but also against the US and NATO.
In comments to BBC, Reznikov dismissed the idea that what he was saying is controversial even though it implicates NATO as a direct party to the conflict. “Why [would it be] controversial? It’s true. It’s a fact. I’m sure that in the near future, we’ll become member of NATO, de jure,” he said.
The implication that NATO is directly involved in the war gives Russia a pretext to launch an attack on NATO bases in Europe if it chooses to do so. Right now, there’s no sign that Moscow is looking to take such a step, but as the US and its NATO allies continue to ramp up military aid, further escalation becomes more likely.