WASHINGTON – Ukraine can expect new security guarantees from NATO countries at the military alliance’s next summit, but it should not count on receiving a formal invitation to membership during the gathering in Lithuania.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been urging NATO member states to commit to accepting Ukraine into the alliance when the war is over to help deter future Russian attacks on the country. He said in an interview This month he saw no “use” in attending the Vilnius summit without “signaling” or acknowledging Ukraine’s acceptance.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed, in an interview with USA TODAY Monday night during a trip to Washington, that Ukraine will eventually be invited to become a member.
“I think there is no expectation that this will happen in Vilnius,” Stoltenberg said. “But what we do know is that we need to address Ukraine’s application for membership and the way forward. There are ongoing consultations between the NATO allies, and these consultations [are not] In conclusion yet.”
The decision on when to invite Ukraine to join NATO will be taken unanimously among the alliance’s 31 members.
White House Refuse to take a stand On the advance timing of Tuesday’s meeting between Biden and Stoltenberg. The White House national security coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, said the Biden administration is in “active conversations” with Ukraine about its long-term defense needs ahead of the summit.
The most urgent task, Stoltenberg told USA TODAY, is for Ukraine, which is engaged in a counteroffensive, to win the war as a sovereign state. “Because unless they do that, there is absolutely no issue of membership to discuss.”
“At the NATO summit, NATO allies will express their strong support for Ukraine, not only in words, but also in deeds,” Stoltenberg said. “I expect new decisions on concrete support.”
The NATO chief said the alliance is working on a multi-year package that is likely to be agreed upon at the summit. He said the support package would help Ukraine meet the organization’s criteria for membership.
Stoltenberg urged Zelensky to attend the meeting, saying it would be important for NATO and Ukraine to “show unity” in Vilnius and for the leader to be present when new decisions are made on how best to support Kiev.
“I think it’s very important for President Zelensky and for Ukraine to see that we actually move forward and commit to long-term military support to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.
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