Ukraine calls on NATO to secure Black Sea and integrate air defences – National

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said on Thursday that NATO should play a bigger role in Black Sea security and integrate Ukraine’s air and missile defenses with those of its allies.

“The Black Sea helps make the whole of Europe peaceful and future-oriented,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleva said via video link at the Black Sea Security Conference in Bucharest, Romania.

“Sadly, this is also a showcase of how quickly things can go wrong if we ignore threats. It’s time to turn the Black Sea into a NATO sea like the Baltic.”

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“The Black Sea will never become a NATO sea,” Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a press conference.

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“This is a shared sea, and it must be a sea of ​​cooperation, interaction and security for all coastal states. And this security is indivisible.”

The Black Sea and its Ukrainian coast have been an important arena of war since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. As the world’s largest food exporters, both Moscow and Kiev rely on the sea for trade, including supplying grain markets. Russia’s blockade threatened to spark a global food crisis last year until the United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal to keep ports open, which remains a diplomatic focus.

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“We need to work together on common Russian issues. For example, I support the idea of ​​experts to integrate Ukrainian air and missile defense systems with those of our NATO allies in the Black and Baltic Seas.” said Kreba.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea on the Ukrainian peninsula, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014, making seizing Ukrainian ports a major Russian goal. Since last year’s invasion, Moscow has seized the entire Azov coast leading to the Black Sea, but its advance along the Black Sea coast halted about 130 kilometers east of Ukraine’s main port of Odessa.

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Kiev has no navy to match, but Russia’s at sea has been on the rise since Ukraine sank the Russian main cruiser Moskva a year ago and recaptured Snake Island, a rocky outcrop near the shipping route to Odesa. The impact of dominance is slowing.

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In northern Europe, the security map around the Baltic Sea has been redrawn over the past year as Finland and Sweden decided to apply for NATO membership, leaving Russia the only littoral state to break out of the Western military alliance. increase.

Ukraine’s and Georgia’s applications for membership would have the same effect on the Black Sea, where Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey have already joined.

Kleva said the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius was an opportunity for Ukraine to advance its long-sought NATO membership, adding that “not only is the door open, but also when and how Ukraine will join. “It’s an opportunity to show that we have a clear plan,” he said.

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