Moscow, Nov 30 (Representastive) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has changed his rhetoric with regard to Ukraine to make it easier for alliance members to accept that Russia’s demands for Kiev’s neutrality will likely to be accepted in future peace talks, Belgian military expert Pierre Henrot told Sputnik. Earlier in the week, Stoltenberg acknowledged that Ukraine had failed to advance its front line in the conflict with Russia over the past year even with NATO’s “significant” support, urging the alliance not to underestimate Russia’s defense capabilities. “It has been made repeatedly clear that the first demand by Russia, if and when negotiations start, would be that Ukraine remain neutral and never enter NATO,” Henrot said. “Now that it becomes evident that Ukraine is going to lose this conflict, Stoltenberg prepares the allies, especially European public opinion, to the fact that this condition of strict neutrality of Ukraine that has been continuously demanded by Russia since the early 1990s will have to be applied.”
The expert to Stoltenberg repeatedly and on multiple occasions saying that Ukraine could potentially join the alliance only after the conflict. At the same time the NATO headquarters understands any negotiation will have to deal first with Russia’s demand of Kiev’s strict neutrality, according to Henrot. The NATO foreign ministers’ meeting took place in Brussels from Tuesday to Wednesday to address the situation in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a result of the NATO Summit in Vilnius from July 11-12, NATO leaders agreed on a package of three elements to bring Ukraine closer to the alliance. The first element is the creation of an assistance program for Ukraine that will facilitate its transition to NATO standards, training and doctrine. The second element is the establishment of a NATO-Ukraine Council, and the third is the cancellation of the Membership Action Plan for Ukraine, which will allow Kiev’s accession process to be shortened from two steps to one. However, the bloc has not extended an official invitation to Kiev.