*As Pentagon chief believes NATO enlargement should be considered by all members of bloc
By KEMI KASUMU with Agencies reports
The request by Ukraine to join NATO has been compared to a bid to “speed up the start of World War III”, the US authorities re-open commitment to NATO’s ‘open door’ policy to allow push Kiev’s application.
The ‘open door’ policy must, however, be ensured that the decision on its expansion should be made by all countries of the bloc, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who made the suggestion on Saturday, commenting on Kiev’s bid to join NATO on an expedited basis.
“We are committed to supporting NATO’s ‘open door’ policy, but how that proceeds (admission of new members to the alliance – TASS) is really an issue that’s worked out by between the 30 [NATO] countries who vote on this. That work will have to be done in the future,” he said at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Richard Marles in Hawaii. The press conference was broadcast live on the Pentagon’s website.
“But right now, most we’re focused on doing everything we can to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to be successful. And we’re seeing some some really good effects being created by the Ukrainian forces,” Austin stressed.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenski signed the country’s application for expedited NATO membership. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not respond to a direct question from reporters about whether the alliance was ready to consider the application.
Russian Deputy Security Council Chairman Dmitry Medvedev compared Kiev’s bid to a request to “speed up the start of World War III”.