The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) says that Ukraine’s future belongs within the alliance—but President Volodymyr Zelensky says the current invitation is absurd.
- NATO is currently meeting for a two-day summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, and the topic of Ukraine’s future is one of its primary issues.
- Zelensky fired back at NATO leadership Tuesday morning, criticizing its initial invitation to his country for its uncertainty regarding membership.
- He notes that the initial draft was simply a proposal for a pledge for an invitation rather than fully approving NATO membership.
- NATO leadership gathered Tuesday to discuss further the issue, noting that Ukraine will eventually belong within the organization but did not deliver an invitation or timeline.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that certain conditions need to be met before the country can join the treaty organization.
- President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Zelensky on Wednesday.
The war in Ukraine has entered its 17th month, with Russia’s invasion and counteroffensives against the smaller European country continuing and global military and financial aid continuing to support its defense. As the war continues to bog down, the future of both sides of the conflict remains in question. Neither side of the conflict expected a lengthy conflict, but neither side is prepared to surrender or make concessions, with Zelensky saying he is committed to freeing occupied territories in Donbas and Crimea.
NATO remains divided about how to address the future of Ukraine. It does not want to become entangled in a land war against a nuclear-armed adversary that has threatened retaliation against countries that come to its aid. But at the same time, Ukraine has advocated for entry into NATO since before the war.
Tuesday’s declaration noted, “We reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine in the heroic defense of their nation, their land, and our shared values,” also noting that Russia is the most significant threat to security and peace in Europe.
The Russian government has argued that NATO expansion was one of its excuses for launching the invasion, with hostile countries allying against its border nations. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticized the ongoing summit and warned of severe consequences should NATO allow the war to escalate. He warned that Ukraine joining NATO would harm European security and threaten Russia’s borders.
“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. It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance. This means that a window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means the motivation to continue its terror. Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit,” says Zelensky.