Zelensky Slams 'Absurd' NATO Decision

Alliance won't give timeline on Ukraine's membership
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 11, 2023 2:36 PM CDT
NATO Says It Won't Set Timetable for Ukraine to Join
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Tuesday, July 11, 2023.   (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

NATO leaders agreed Tuesday to allow Ukraine to join "when allies agree and conditions are met," hours after President Volodymyr Zelensky blasted the organization'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 step in joining the alliance. "This will change Ukraine's membership path from a two-step path to a one-step path," he said, per the AP.

Although many NATO members have funneled arms and ammunition to Zelensky's forces, there is no consensus among the 31 allies for admitting Ukraine into NATO's ranks. Instead, the 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. Zelensky pushed back sharply against the decision. "It's unprecedented and absurd when a time frame is set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine's membership," he 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."

Zelenskyy is expected to meet Wednesday with President 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. 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. Some also fear that bringing Ukraine into NATO would serve more as a provocation to Russia than as a deterrence against aggression. (Turkey has dropped its objection to Sweden joining NATO.)

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