Ukraine Seeks Commitment from NATO Leaders at Upcoming Summit
Ukraine has long been seeking membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), viewing it as a way to enhance its security and fend off Russian aggression. With NATO leaders gathering for their annual summit in Vilnius, Ukraine is pushing for a commitment on its membership aspirations. While NATO officials have expressed support for Ukraine’s efforts, some Western nations remain wary of antagonizing Russia.
A Clear Understanding
Speaking to POLITICO in Brussels, Ukrainian Ambassador to NATO Natalia Galibarenko said her country wants “some kind of invitation — or at least commitment […] to look at the timeframe and modalities of our membership.” With the two-day summit coming up in mid-July, Galibarenko acknowledged the resistance some NATO leaders have to offering Ukraine a clear commitment, due to fears of antagonizing Moscow. However, she argued that phased-in NATO membership would allow the alliance and Ukraine to work collaboratively on security issues.
At the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, the alliance pledged that Ukraine would become a member and the next step would be a Membership Action Plan (MAP). However, some NATO officials are now arguing that Ukraine shouldn’t be offered a MAP until the war with Russia ends. The Ukrainian government, however, is pushing for NATO leaders to make a “political decision” on membership without requiring a MAP.
U.S. President’s Comments
Although U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed support for Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO, he recently indicated that he doesn’t favor shortcuts. “I’m not going to make it easier…There’s a whole issue of: Is their system secure? Is it non-corrupt? Does it meet all the standards?,” Biden said.
Reforms and Limitations
The Ukrainian Ambassador acknowledged that implementing Ukraine’s reforms would be easier once it has joined NATO. She noted that some current NATO members had shortcomings when they became members, and that Finland was able to skip the MAP process entirely. Nonetheless, Ukraine is realistic about the limitations to its NATO aspirations while fighting with Russia continues.
Advocating For a Closer Relationship With NATO
Despite the obstacles, Ukraine is continuing to advocate for a closer relationship with NATO. The country is realistic about the challenges it faces in securing membership, but is also mindful of the benefits it could offer Ukraine’s security.
Upgrade of Relations
Galibarenko praised an expected NATO aid package, a “defense transition plan” to help Ukraine’s armed forces modernize, and a move to upgrade the current NATO-Ukraine Commission into the closer NATO-Ukraine Council format.
Threat to Not Attend Summit
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has threatened not to attend the Vilnius summit if he does not get a clear commitment from the alliance. However, the Ukrainian Ambassador downplayed the threat, describing planned new assistance and the NATO-Ukraine Council as “an upgrade of our relations.”
Ukraine’s aspiration to become a NATO member has been a long-standing goal, with the country viewing NATO membership as a way to deter Russian aggression and strengthen its security. With NATO leaders gathering at a summit in Vilnius, Ukraine is pushing for a commitment on its membership aspirations. While some Western nations remain wary of antagonizing Russia, the Ukrainian government is continuing to advocate for a closer relationship with NATO, recognizing that the benefits could be significant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is Ukraine’s goal in seeking NATO membership?
Ukraine views NATO membership as a way to deter Russian aggression and enhance its security.
2. Why are some NATO members hesitant to offer Ukraine a clear commitment?
Some NATO members are wary of antagonizing Russia by offering Ukraine a clear commitment to membership.
3. What does the Ukrainian government want from NATO leaders?
The Ukrainian government is pushing for a “political decision” on membership without requiring a Membership Action Plan.
4. What has U.S. President Joe Biden said about Ukraine’s NATO aspirations?
Although supportive of Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO, Biden has indicated that he doesn’t favor shortcuts and that Ukraine’s system must meet all standards.
5. What benefits could NATO membership offer Ukraine?
NATO membership could enhance Ukraine’s security and offer a way to collaborate with the alliance on security issues.