After weeks of tense negotiations, NATO on Tuesday invited Ukraine to join the alliance at some unspecified point in the future, but only when allies agree that conditions are ripe and that Ukraine has met the qualifications to join.
In its communicationagreed by all 31 NATO members, the alliance says that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO”, pledging to continue to support the country in its war against Russia and to engage the alliance’s foreign ministers in a periodic review of Ukraine’s progress towards achieving of NATO. standards – both in democratization and military integration.
The wording essentially marked a victory for President Biden, who recently declared that “Ukraine is not ready for NATO membership.” Just hours before the communique was issued, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky sharply criticized the “uncertainty” about Ukraine’s path to membership in the alliance.
Alliance leaders have struggled to agree on language on how to describe a timeline and terms for what everyone agrees will be Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO. The battle within NATO is not over whether Ukraine will join, but how and under what conditions. Some countries wanted an immediate invitation after the end of the war; other countries, such as the United States, wanted to avoid any notion that entry would be automatic.
While Mr. Zelensky wanted more, NATO officials argue that he will have many benefits to bring home from this summit, with closer ties to NATO, a firmer commitment to membership and specific offers of longer-term financial and military assistance.
Asked about Mr Zelensky’s concerns, Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, said the most important thing now was to make sure his country won the war against Russia because “unless Ukraine is not in control, there is no discussion at all membership”. Mr. Stoltenberg said the current commitments differed from the vague promise made in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would one day join the alliance, without specifying how or when.
Here are some of the alliance’s significant new commitments to Ukraine:
NATO agreed that Ukraine would not need to go through a preliminary and more time-consuming process to prepare it for an invitation to the alliance, called a Membership Action Plan. Both Sweden and Finland were also allowed to skip such a process.
The alliance is creating a NATO-Ukraine Council, a new joint body for Kyiv and the allies to deepen their relationship ahead of Ukraine’s membership. The inaugural meeting, which Mr Zelensky is expected to attend, will take place on Wednesday in Vilnius.
The communiqué emphasized the urgent need to continue non-lethal aid to Ukraine, extending an existing aid program to “help rebuild the Ukrainian security and defense sector and transition Ukraine to full interoperability with NATO.”
The document was unequivocal in condemning Russia, demanding that Moscow “completely and unconditionally withdraw all its forces and equipment from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territories.”
It also condemned Russia’s “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and coercive nuclear signalling,” as well as plans to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.