VILNIUS, LITHUANIAN: Leaders of NATO have agreed to allow Ukraine to join the military alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met” after President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized the “absurd” delay to accession; however, there is no clarity on the conditions for Ukraine’s future NATO membership.
The leaders said in a declaration: “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” but they offered no timeline for the process.
“We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met,” the declaration said, without specifying the conditions Ukraine needs to meet.
NATO did drop a requirement for Ukraine to fulfil what is called a Membership Action Plan (MAP), effectively removing a hurdle on Kyiv’s way into the alliance.
Even before the release of the declaration, Zelenskiy had assailed NATO leaders.
“It’s unprecedented and absurd when a timeframe is not set, neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership,” Zelenskiy said before arriving in Vilnius as a special guest.
Speaking at a rally in Vilnius on Tuesday, Zelenskiy voiced disappointment that Ukraine was not invited to join NATO.
“I travelled here today with belief in a decision, with belief in partners, with belief in a strong NATO…”
“I would wish for this belief to become a certainty – certainty in decisions that all of us deserve and which our every soldier expects, our every citizen, our every mother, our every child. And is this too big of a wish?” he asked.
Significant and direct threat
The NATO stance highlighted the divisions among its 31 members over giving a date or a straightforward invitation for Ukraine to join. Kyiv has been pushing for a swift entry, bound together with security guarantees, since even before Russia unleashed its invasion in February 2022.
NATO members in Eastern Europe have backed Kyiv’s call, arguing that bringing Ukraine under NATO’s security umbrella is the best way to deter Russia from attacking again. (Int’l News Desk)