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14 Feb, 2024 17:23

US envoy gives NATO reality check to Ukraine

Washington’s envoy to the alliance says Kiev should not expect to receive an invitation this summer
US envoy gives NATO reality check to Ukraine

Ukraine is unlikely to be invited to join NATO this year, Washington’s ambassador to the alliance said on Tuesday, despite last year’s repeated promises of full membership.

Speaking to journalists ahead of this week’s meeting of the US military bloc’s defense ministers, Julianne Smith was asked what to expect from this summer’s NATO summit in Washington.

Kiev officially submitted an application to join NATO in autumn of 2022, having enshrined accession to the trans-Atlantic alliance in its constitution back in 2019, calling it a strategic foreign policy goal.

Smith reiterated the official position that “Ukraine’s future is in the NATO Alliance” and stressed that NATO continues to focus on supporting Kiev and ensuring that it can “prevail on the battlefield” in its conflict with Russia.

However, she cautioned: “As for the summit this summer, I do not expect the Alliance to issue an invitation at this juncture.” Smith said she expects a pledge from member states to “move closer to Ukraine and that we are taking concrete steps to serve as a bridge between where we are now and that full-fledged membership.”

“All of us will continue to support [Ukraine] for as long as it takes,” the diplomat stressed.

Last week, Britain’s envoy to NATO, David Quarrey, also warned that Kiev should not expect significant progress on its membership bid in the near future. Speaking to Politico, he claimed Kiev is “getting closer all the time” but that the “situation on the ground” prevents any “big leaps” towards membership.

According to a Foreign Policy magazine report in January, citing a dozen anonymous officials, neither Washington nor Berlin currently want Kiev to join the bloc, fearing a potential direct confrontation with Moscow. Such concerns have also been voiced by some NATO members, particularly Hungary and Slovakia.

Moscow, meanwhile, has repeatedly slammed any prospects of Ukraine becoming a member of the US-led bloc, with President Vladimir Putin citing Kiev’s attempts to join NATO, which has been expanding towards Russia’s border since the end of the Cold War, as a key reason for launching the military operation against Ukraine.