Italy says NATO’s open door to Ukraine, Georgia should not to be shut

NATO cannot renege on promises made in 2008 for Ukraine, Georgia to join alliance, says Italy’s top diplomat.

Italy says NATO’s open door to Ukraine, Georgia should not to be shut

NATO cannot go back on its open-door policy and promises to Ukraine and Georgia to one day join the Western defense alliance, Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Tuesday. 

"NATO cannot give up on the open-door policy and the commitments made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit for Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance in the future, but we know that this is a red line for Moscow. On the other hand, Kyiv has not completed the reforms that it had to implement to achieve NATO membership," he said.

Italy does not recognize the annexation of Crimea and is in favor of Ukraine's territorial integrity, said Di Maio as he and Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini addressed a joint session of the Foreign and Defense Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

There is work in the EU regarding Russia's possible attack on Ukraine, he said. "We interact closely with our partners to define a sustainable, gradual, and proportionate package of measures. We are working on a possible sanctions system."

He went on to say: "Moscow remains indispensable to ensure the flow of supply across Europe."

Russian naval units passed through a part of the Mediterranean Sea between Italy, Tunisia and Malta, known as the Sicilian channel, and Italy closely monitored the passage, he said.

Touching upon Turkiye's offer to mediate talks between Russia and Ukraine, Di Maio said: "Turkey has historical ties with Russia. The Turkish ambassador preside the observation mission in Ukraine. They suggest that a tripartite meeting can be held in Istanbul, but the real place to solve this crisis is the EU."

Italy would welcome other actors, but he hoped that France and the EU would address this issue, he said.

Guerini said the main path followed by the Italian government and allies should be insisting on dialogue.

"But at the same time, we share the determination to deliver a clear message to Russia. Any aggression against Kyiv has serious consequences," he said.  

Tension between Ukraine and Russia

Moscow and Kyiv have been locked in conflict since hostilities in the eastern Donbas region broke out in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia has amassed thousands of troops near Ukraine's borders, prompting fears it could be planning another military offensive against the former Soviet republic.

The US and its allies have warned of an imminent attack and threatened Russia of "severe consequences."

Moscow, however, has denied it is preparing to invade Ukraine and said its troops are there for exercises.

Efforts by world leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are afoot to resolve the row peacefully.