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No timetable set for Ukraine’s membership; NATO


Jul 12, 2023

Zelenskyy calls that ‘absurd’

TCSN World Desk
NATO leaders said Tuesday that they would allow Ukraine to
join the alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met,” hours after President
Volodymyr Zelenskyy blasted the organisation’s failure to set a timetable for
his country as “absurd.” “We reaffirmed Ukraine will become a member of NATO
and agreed to remove the requirement for a membership action plan,” NATO
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters, referring to a key

zelenskyy-ukraine No timetable set for Ukraine’s membership; NATO

step in
joining the alliance. “This will change Ukraine’s membership path from a
two-step path to a one-step path,” he said.
Although many NATO members
have funnelled arms and ammunition to Zelenskyy’s forces, there is no consensus
among the 31 allies for admitting Ukraine into NATO’s ranks. Instead, alliance
leaders decided to remove obstacles on Ukraine’s membership path so that it can
join more quickly once the war with Russia is over. It’s unprecedented
and absurd when a time frame is set neither for the invitation nor for ukrain’s
membership,” Zelenskyy tweeted as he headed to the annual Nato summit in
Vilnius. “While at the same time, vague wording about conditions’ is added even
for inviting Ukraine. It seems there is no readiness to invite Ukraine to NATO
or to make it a member of the Alliance.” NATO membership would afford Ukraine
protection against a giant neighbour that annexed its Crimean Peninsula almost
a decade ago and more recently seized vast swaths of land in the east and
south. Joining NATO would also oblige Kyiv to reform its security institutions,
improve governance and curb corruption  work that would also ease the country’s path
into the European Union. Asked about Zelenskyy’s concerns, Stoltenberg
said the most important thing now is to ensure that his country wins the war,
because “unless Ukraine prevails there is no membership to be discussed at
all.” The broadside from Zelenskyy could renew tensions at the summit shortly
after it saw a burst of goodwill following an agreement by Turkey to advance
Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Allies hope to resolve the seesawing negotiations
and create a clear plan for the alliance and its support for Ukraine. “We
value our allies,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter, adding that “Ukraine also
deserves respect.” He also said: “Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly
discuss this at the summit.” Zelenskyy is expected to meet Wednesday with U.S.
President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders. There have been sharp
divisions within the alliance over Ukraine’s desire to join NATO, which was
promised back in 2008 even though few steps were taken toward that goal.
In addition, the Baltic states — including Lithuania, which is hosting the
summit — have pushed for a strong show of support and a clear pathway toward
membership for Ukraine. However, the United States and Germany urged
caution. Biden said last week that Ukraine was not ready to join. Members of
NATO, he told CNN, need to “meet all the qualifications, from democratisation
to a whole range of other issues,” a nod toward longstanding concerns about
governance and corruption in Kyiv. In addition, some fear that bringing
Ukraine into NATO would serve more as a provocation to Russia than as a
deterrence against aggression. Concretely, NATO leaders decided to
launch a series of multiyear programs to bring Ukraine’s Soviet-era military
equipment and doctrines up to modern standards so the country can operate fully
with the alliance. On Wednesday, the leaders and Zelenskyy are set to
launch a new, upgraded forum for their cooperation: a NATO-Ukraine Council,
where all parties can convene crisis talks if their security is threatened.
To fast-track its future membership, the leaders agreed to do away with a
membership action plan for Ukraine, a program often seen as mandatory for
aspiring nations to undertake. Known in NATO parlance as a MAP, the
action plan involves a tailor-made package of advice, assistance and practical
support for countries preparing to join NATO. Bosnia, for example, is currently
taking part in one. Pressed by reporters to say what kind of conditions
are being placed on Ukraine joining, Stoltenberg said: “We want modern defence
and security institutions.He also said Kyiv’s hopes might hinge on
strengthening its governance standards and fighting corruption. The
dispute over Ukraine stands in contrast to a hard-fought agreement to advance
Sweden’s membership. The deal was reached after days of intensive meetings, and
it’s poised to expand the alliance’s strength in Northern Europe. “Rumours
of the death of NATO’s unity were greatly exaggerated,” White House national
security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters triumphantly on Tuesday.According
to a joint statement issued when the deal was announced, Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan will ask Turkey’s parliament to approve Sweden joining
NATO. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, another holdout, is
expected to take a similar step. Hungary’s foreign minister said Tuesday that
his country’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership was now just a
“technical matter.” Erdogan has not yet commented publicly. The outcome
is a victory as well for Biden, who has touted NATO’s expansion as an example
of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has backfired on Moscow.
Finland has already become the 31st member of the
alliance, and Sweden is on deck to become the 32nd. Both Nordic countries were
historically nonaligned until the war increased fears of Russian aggression.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that NATO’s expansion is “one of
the reasons that led to the current situation.” “It looks like the Europeans
don’t understand their mistake,” Peskov said. He warned against putting Ukraine
on a fast track for NATO membership. However, Erdogan appeared eager to
develop his relationship with Biden. He said previous meetings were “mere
warm-ups, but now we are initiating a new process.” The Turkish president has
been seeking advanced American fighter jets and a path toward membership in the
European Union. The White House has expressed support for both, but publicly
insisted that the issues were not related to Sweden’s membership in NATO.

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