There is a consensus among the 31 NATO members that the Alliance will not issue a formal invitation to Ukraine to join at the July 11-12 summit, but there are differences of opinion among the member countries regarding specific steps for Ukraine’s integration into NATO.
Details : Discussions over Ukraine among the Alliance members intensified weeks before US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders meet in Vilnius to approve plans to strengthen defense against Russia, according to the publication.
NATO representatives, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was consensus among the Alliance’s 31 members that, despite calls from Kiev, NATO would not issue a formal invitation to join Ukraine at the July 11-12 meeting.
But Eastern European countries are pushing for concrete steps towards that goal, including a potential commitment to Ukraine’s accession timeline, even if the United States and some Western European countries are pushing for smaller steps that could include a bureaucratic upgrade of the Ukraine-NATO commission or a decision to further expand technical support of NATO in the defense sector of Ukraine.
Tuuli Duneton, a senior official at the Estonian Ministry of Defense, said that the Vilnius summit provided an opportunity to send a powerful message to Ukraine: “After all the suffering they have endured, their place is in NATO, and we will be glad to see them there.”
Officials in the Baltic states have suggested that NATO – apart from repeating the 2008 formula under which Ukraine will gain membership indefinitely – grant Ukraine a formal invitation to membership in Vilnius or start the process of setting a time frame and specific conditions for Ukraine’s accession, even if it will be longer because of the war.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said his “wish list” for Vilnius included “providing an appropriate path” for Ukraine to join NATO. On the eve of the summit, he said, “the level of political will” is being discussed as to how quickly this can be done.
Countries that support faster action to integrate Ukraine into the Alliance argue that membership’s dependence on Ukraine’s ability to fend off a full-scale Russian invasion effectively gives Putin veto power, which is not the message NATO wants to send.
As they say, history shows that only membership, not the promise of membership, can deter Russia from using force. A few months after the 2008 NATO declaration on the possible accession of Ukraine and Georgia, Putin sent Russian troops to Georgia. Ukraine’s slow steps towards NATO membership also did not stop Putin’s illegal takeover of Crimea in 2014 and his full-scale invasion last year.
U.S. officials say the Biden administration prefers NATO countries prioritize giving Ukraine continued support on the battlefield. They see membership and potential security guarantees as issues to be resolved in a final settlement of the war.
“At this stage, we should focus on practical support and how we can best continue the security assistance we provide to Ukraine,” a senior US official told reporters in Brussels last month.
“This is now a major political challenge,” he added, arguing that the broader political relationship between NATO and Ukraine after the end of the war will be “somewhat contentious unless we are absolutely confident that we can continue to provide security assistance.”
Countries that have stronger cautions point out that admitting Ukraine while it is at war with Russia could automatically trigger Article V, NATO’s Mutual Defense Clause, drawing the Alliance into serious conflict with the world’s largest nuclear power. peace. Rapid steps toward membership could also ostensibly force Putin to step up his campaign in Ukraine.
An Eastern European official said there was “a sort of ping-pong game” between Germany, France and the US in which each country points out to the other that they have the most caution.
Despite their diverging views, officials have stressed the importance of showing solidarity as Ukraine seeks to be as strong as possible in possible negotiations with Russia.
“The goal before Vilnius is to reach an agreement that demonstrates unity and tangible support for Ukraine, maintains an open door policy and demonstrates progress towards membership while respecting the concerns of some member countries,” an unnamed British diplomat said.