Second NATO country publicly opposes Ukrainian membership

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Slovakia has followed Hungary in objecting to Kiev’s proposed accession to the bloc

Ukraine joining NATO would guarantee a third world war, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has said, publicly expressing opposition to the idea.

Fico released a short video message on Thursday while the leaders of NATO countries were meeting in Washington. The draft of the annual summit’s final communique reportedly includes references to Ukraine’s “irreversible path” towards joining the US-led bloc.

“I understand Ukraine’s wishes,” Fico said in the video. “But its membership in NATO guarantees World War Three.”

“Although to be fair, we are not too far from it even without Ukraine’s membership, seeing as how some advanced democracies are stoking the pot,” he added.

Slovakia’s representatives in Washington have been instructed to insist on two conditions for Ukrainian membership, Fico said. Kiev must meet every condition set by the bloc, and every member state has to give its blessing.

“However, as I’ve said many times, Smer and its lawmakers in the National Assembly of Slovakia will not agree to Ukraine’s membership in NATO,” he said, in reference to his ruling party.

Fico campaigned last year on a platform of opposing Ukrainian membership in NATO and further Slovak military support to Kiev. He won the election in a landslide. 

In mid-May, a liberal activist reportedly upset with Bratislava’s new policy shot Fico several times and almost killed him. The prime minister underwent a series of surgeries and spent weeks recovering from the assassination attempt, returning to work in person just last week.

On Wednesday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters in Washington that Ukraine’s membership in the bloc “is clearly out of the question,” as it would “foreshadow direct conflict between Russia and NATO.” 

The US-led bloc is expected to pledge at least €40 billion ($43.3 billion) in military aid to Ukraine over the next year and endorse its “full Euro-Atlantic integration,” but an invitation to NATO would only be extended “when allies agree and conditions are met,” according to a draft seen by Reuters. The same language was used at last year’s summit in Lithuania.

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