Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Kingdom, has clarified remarks made Sunday when he suggested that Ukraine might consider not seeking to join NATO in an effort to prevent war with Russia.
Prystaiko told the BBC in an interview Monday: "We are not a member of NATO right now and to avoid war we are ready for many concessions and that's what we're doing in our conversations with Russians. But it has nothing to do with NATO, which is enshrined in the [Ukrainian] constitution."
In an earlier BBC interview, Prystaiko said: “What I’m saying here is that we are flexible, trying to find the best, best way out. If we have to go from, sort of some serious, I don’t know, some serious concessions, that’s something we might do. That’s, that’s for sure."
This comes as Russia argues that NATO support for Ukraine -- including increased weapons supplies and military training -- constitutes a growing threat on Russia's western flank.
Asked by CNN for comment on the ambassador's statements, a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the ambassador's words were "taken out of context."
The words of Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Vadym Prystaiko that Ukraine is allegedly ready to consider giving up NATO membership in order to prevent a war with Russia have been taken out of context," Oleg Nikolenko told CNN.
"Of course, for the sake of peace and saving the lives of our citizens, Ukraine is ready to enter into any format of dialogue with countries and international organizations," he said.
"At the same time, Ambassador Prystaiko rightly noted in an interview that the prospect of NATO membership is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, but Ukraine is not currently a member of NATO or another security alliance. Therefore, the issue of security guarantees becomes key for our country.
"Undoubtedly, the best such guarantee would be Ukraine's immediate accession to the Alliance. But threats to Ukraine exist here and now, so finding an answer to the question of guarantees becomes a fundamental urgent task. At the same time, no decision can be made contrary to the Constitution of Ukraine."
Britain will support whatever Ukraine decides to do regarding its pursuit of NATO membership, UK Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey told Sky News Monday.
"If Ukraine decides that it is going to offer that it won't become a NATO member, we support that. That's for the Ukrainians to decide," Heappey told Sky News.
"Similarly, if Ukraine wanted to reserve its position and say that in the future it may want to join NATO, we would support that too because that's what sovereignty is and that's what we support," the minister added.