NATO Strengthens Ukraine Relations Without Deciding on Membership

by Joshua Brown
NATO-Ukraine Relations

NATO chiefs convened on Wednesday to establish a significant new platform for their relations with Ukraine. This move comes after promising to increase military support to Ukraine in its combat against Russia, while providing only indistinct guarantees of prospective membership.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts are set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the newly formed NATO-Ukraine Council. This permanent body facilitates discussions and convenes meetings during crises between the 31 NATO allies and Ukraine.

The arrangement forms part of NATO’s strategy to draw Ukraine closer to the military alliance without officially inducting it. On Tuesday, the leaders outlined in their summit summary that Ukraine could be admitted “when allies concur and prerequisites are fulfilled.”

“Today we converse as equals,” stated NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a shared press conference with Zelenskyy on Wednesday. “I anticipate the day we convene as allies.”

The uncertain roadmap for Ukraine’s future membership reflects the difficulty of gaining a common agreement among current alliance members while conflict persists. This uncertainty has irked Zelenskyy, even as he showed gratitude for the military aid pledged by the Group of Seven industrial nations.

“The summit outcomes are encouraging, but an invitation would have been perfect,” said Zelenskyy, via a translator.

Despite his frustration, the Ukrainian leader adopted a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday, compared to his sharp critique the previous day of the absence of a membership timetable as “unprecedented and absurd.”

“NATO requires us as much as we require NATO,” he affirmed alongside Stoltenberg.

The issue of Ukraine’s future membership was the most controversial and emotionally charged topic at this year’s summit. Essentially, Western nations are prepared to continue sending weapons to aid Ukraine in its task, which parallels NATO’s purpose of resisting a Russian invasion. However, they are not ready to admit Ukraine into their ranks, which would extend its security benefits during the ongoing war.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated on Wednesday, “We must remain detached from this war but continue supporting Ukraine. We have managed this delicate equilibrium for the past 17 months. It’s beneficial to everyone that we sustain this balance.”

Amanda Sloat, senior director of European affairs for the U.S. National Security Council, supported the summit’s resolutions. “I concur that the communique is unprecedented, but I interpret that positively,” she informed reporters on Wednesday.

Sloat mentioned that Ukraine will not be required to present a “membership action plan” in its pursuit to join NATO, although she acknowledged, “there are still governance and security sector reforms that will be needed.” The action plan typically plays a pivotal role in the process, offering guidance and aid to aspiring member countries.

However, the summit proceedings have been more conservative, especially from Biden, who has openly stated his belief that Ukraine is not prepared to join NATO. There are worries that the country’s democracy is unstable and corruption is too deeply entrenched.

Wednesday’s commitments will include a new G7 framework that would secure Ukraine’s long-term safety.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement that supporting Ukraine’s “progress on the pathway to NATO membership, coupled with formal, multilateral, and bilateral agreements and the overwhelming support of NATO members will send a strong signal to President Putin and return peace to Europe.”

Sloat suggested that these commitments will demonstrate to Russia “that time is not on its side.”

Moscow strongly criticized the G7 plan. “We view this as extremely imprudent and potentially very hazardous,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. He added, “By providing security assurances to Ukraine, they’re violating Russia’s security.”

The summit has been marked by periods of contention and compromise. Initially, leaders seemed to be at an impasse over Sweden’s bid for membership in the alliance. But Turkey surprisingly consented to withdraw its objections on Monday, the night before the summit officially commenced.

“This summit is already historic before it has begun,” Stoltenberg declared.

The Turkish president has been looking to foster his relationship with Biden, even though he has yet to publicly comment on the deal concerning Sweden’s membership.

Karl Ritter and Liudas Dapkus, Big Big News correspondents, contributed to this article.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NATO-Ukraine Relations

What is the new initiative launched by NATO with Ukraine?

The NATO leaders have established a new forum called the NATO-Ukraine Council. This is a permanent body that allows for consultations and meetings in emergency situations between the 31 NATO allies and Ukraine.

Has Ukraine been granted NATO membership?

No, as of the recent summit, Ukraine has not been granted NATO membership. The NATO leaders stated that Ukraine could join “when allies agree and conditions are met,” but no specific timeline or clear path for membership has been provided.

What kind of support has NATO promised to Ukraine?

NATO has committed to providing increased military aid to Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia. A new G7 framework was also included in the commitments to ensure Ukraine’s long-term security.

What has been the response of the Ukrainian President to NATO’s decisions?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed frustration at the lack of a clear timeline for NATO membership, calling it “unprecedented and absurd.” However, he also acknowledged the benefits of the summit outcomes and expressed gratitude for the pledged military aid.

What is the stance of the U.S. President on Ukraine’s NATO membership?

U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed caution, stating openly that he doesn’t believe Ukraine is ready to join NATO due to concerns over the stability of its democracy and deep-rooted corruption.

More about NATO-Ukraine Relations

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Mike_the_Realist July 12, 2023 - 5:24 pm

Not surprised…bureaucracy and politics always slow things down. Bet Zelenskyy is biting his nails waiting for that invite, lol.

AliceInDiplomacy July 12, 2023 - 9:43 pm

this is a complicated situation guys… letting Ukraine in means potentially dragging NATO countries directly into war with Russia. not an easy choice.

James87 July 13, 2023 - 1:00 am

I dont understand, why they’re dragging feet on Ukraine’s membership?? Seems like they’re all talk no action… frustrating!

Sarah-Lou July 13, 2023 - 5:47 am

For all of the “symbolism” and “deepening ties”, NATO really needs to just make a decision already. Yes or no, Ukraine deserves to know.

IntellectJoe July 13, 2023 - 5:49 am

These ties may be symbolic but theyre important. It sets a precedent for other nations seeking NATO membership too.

GrumpyCat99 July 13, 2023 - 6:18 am

typical… just more political posturing. guess we’ll just wait and see what happens.


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