On the first day of NATO summit in Vilnius, there was dismay and disgruntlement. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky launched an angry tirade on social media, calling NATO’s failure to give Ukraine a formal invitation or clear timeline for joining the alliance “absurd.” The outburst took some Western and NATO officials by surprise as their Ukrainian counterparts had long known that an immediate invitation would not come while the country was at war with Russian invaders. It threatened to upset the spirit of unity that NATO leaders hoped to convey as they gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania, notes ‘The Washington Post’.
On the second day, there was mollification. President Biden, as well as the assembled leaders of the Group of Seven nations and NATO countries, put forward full-throated declarations of support for Ukraine. While Kyiv received no guarantees regarding a timeline to NATO membership, it did receive significant promises of major military assistance, both to help it repel Russian troops in its territories now, and to secure its defense in the long term.
Zelensky appeared satisfied as the summit concluded. Though the outcome was not the most “ideal,” he said it marked a “meaningful success for Ukraine” and he thanked NATO leaders for their “very practical and unprecedented support.”
Jeremy Shapiro, director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations, quipped that Zelensky “has adopted a guilt-based approach to diplomacy” that he likened to his “Jewish grandmother, the former grandmaster of the technique.”
“‘You never write, you never call, you never send F-16s’ has long summarized [Zelensky’s] approach to getting what he wants from the West and the U.S.,” Shapiro told.
The Biden administration believes it’s impossible to confer NATO membership on Ukraine in the middle of the ongoing war. Ukraine joining the alliance now would plunge all NATO countries directly into conflict with Russia, given the treaty obligations binding the alliance. Moreover, NATO membership for Ukraine requires a set of political reforms that the country has yet to fully carry out. Kyiv’s integration into the military alliance as well as the European Union will be painstaking and complex. All NATO “members now agree that Ukraine’s future is in NATO, but that still doesn’t make it an inevitability,” Rachel Rizzo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told.
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