US ‘furious’ over Zelensky tweet – WaPo
The US delegation attending the NATO summit in Vilnius is “furious” over a tweet by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, in which he criticized the military alliance for its reluctance to provide a concrete roadmap for Kiev’s accession to the bloc, the Washington Post reported.
On Tuesday, Zelensky wrote on Twitter that he had been informed that the final text of a statement issued at the summit would not include a timeline for Ukraine’s membership of NATO.
He called this omission “unprecedented and absurd,” and suggested that “indecisiveness” on the issue was a sign of “weakness” in the US-led military alliance. Zelensky claimed that Kiev’s Western backers had decided “to bargain Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia.”
Members of the US delegation were “furious” after learning about the Ukrainian leader’s message, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing an unnamed official familiar with the matter.
The paper pointed out that Zelensky “blasting the alliance stood in stark contrast to the image of Western harmony that [US President Joe] Biden and his aides had been projecting” at the event.
This is likely to make a meeting scheduled to take place in Vilnius on Wednesday between the US and Ukrainian leaders “one of the summit’s most high-profile engagements,” it added.
A senior NATO official told WaPo that Zelensky’s “tweet puts pressure on the alliance,” while also helping him “to say, ‘I am fighting to the end’” to the population of Ukraine.
Also on Tuesday, an unnamed senior diplomat from Central Europe told Politico that Zelensky “is going too far” with his criticism. “I think that this is not a thoughtful and fair approach” from the Ukrainian leader, he added.
In their joint statement, which was issued late on Tuesday, the NATO members only said they would “be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met.”
Zelensky muted his rhetoric as he arrived in the Lithuanian capital on Tuesday, saying he had “faith” that “NATO will give Ukraine security, Ukraine will make NATO stronger.”
Biden told CNN on Sunday that it was “premature” to speak about NATO membership for Ukraine, explaining that Kiev needs to carry out more reforms and achieve “democratization” before it can become part of the bloc. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan explained on the sidelines of the summit in Vilnius that allowing Ukraine to join the alliance now would lead NATO “into a war with Russia.”
Moscow, which views NATO as hostile and vigorously opposes its eastward expansion, highlighted Kiev’s aspirations of joining the alliance among the main reasons for launching its military operation against Ukraine in February 2022.