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11 Jul, 2023 15:49

NATO to keep Ukraine at arm’s length

Kiev will be permitted to join the US-led bloc “when allies agree and conditions are met”
NATO to keep Ukraine at arm’s length

NATO has reaffirmed its readiness to grant Ukraine membership at some point in the future. A joint statement released during the annual summit of the US-led bloc said Kiev would be invited to join only “when allies agree and conditions are met,” but it will be allowed to bypass the so-called Membership Action Plan that is usually required for candidate members.

“We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognize that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan,” the statement read.

Ukraine has become “increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the US-led bloc,” it stated. It also outlined the need for “additional democratic and security sector reforms” in the country. 

“The alliance will support Ukraine in making these reforms on its path towards future membership. We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met,” the statement concluded.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg further elaborated on the matter at a press conference, stating that the bloc must first ensure that Ukraine achieves a “victory” in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Should Kiev not succeed, its NATO membership will be out of the question, he warned.

The pledge falls short of calls by top Ukrainian officials, who have repeatedly urged the US-led alliance to accept the country right away or at least produce an official “invitation” for it at the summit. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky made an apparent last-ditch attempt to influence the bloc’s joint statement hours before it was released, taking to social media to criticize NATO and demand “respect” for Ukraine from the alliance. 

“It’s unprecedented and absurd when [a] time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine,” Zelensky wrote, referring to a draft of the document that was partially leaked to the media.