NATO Offers Conditional Hope to Ukraine for Membership: Selenskyj Expresses Disappointment

news 11-Jul-2023 Europe

NATO's Decision on Ukraine's Membership Hope Frustrates Selenskyj

Introduction: The NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, resulted in a compromise regarding Ukraine's aspirations for membership. While the alliance offered hope to the country attacked by Russia, the formal invitation came with conditions, much to the disappointment of President Selenskyj.

NATO has given Ukraine hope for membership in the defense alliance but has attached formal invitation conditions, according to a statement issued during the NATO summit in Vilnius. The text states, "The future of Ukraine lies in NATO. We reaffirm our commitment, made at the 2008 summit in Bucharest, that Ukraine will become a member of NATO." However, the statement clarifies that NATO will only extend an invitation for Ukraine's accession when the Allies are in agreement and specific requirements are met. Examples of these requirements include additional reforms in the areas of democracy and the security sector.

This clarification addresses the reservations expressed by countries such as Germany and the United States during the negotiations. These nations insisted that NATO membership should continue to be contingent upon fulfilling conditions. One of these conditions is that the military be subject to civilian and democratic control, in line with alliance standards.

The statement does not specify whether Ukraine can join NATO only when all the territories occupied by Russia are liberated or if territorial conflicts are resolved through agreements. This theoretically leaves the possibility for Ukraine's admission even if a "frozen conflict" persists after a ceasefire, for example.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg interpreted this decision as a clear signal, especially considering the additional program for enhanced cooperation with Ukraine. He stated, "This is a strong package for Ukraine and a clear path towards NATO membership." However, for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj, this is undoubtedly insufficient. He has been advocating for a formal invitation for months, and his hopes have now been dashed.

Even before the formal decision, Selenskyj expressed his frustration while en route to Vilnius. He tweeted, "It seems that there is no willingness to invite Ukraine to join NATO or to make it a member of the alliance. This provides motivation for Russia to continue its terror." He regarded this uncertainty as a sign of weakness on the part of the West and pledged to address it openly at the summit.

Concerns about Russia's unpredictable reaction

The issue of Ukraine's prospective membership sparked weeks of disagreement within the alliance. Eastern member states, in particular, supported Ukraine's desire to receive a formal invitation at the summit, contingent on the end of Russia's aggression. However, they were unable to prevail against countries like Germany and the United States.

Another reason for the absence of an invitation is concerns about Russia's unpredictable reaction. Russia, in its ongoing war against Ukraine, is trying to prevent the country from joining NATO.

As a compromise, NATO countries have agreed to promise Ukraine that it will not insist on the usual accession process before admission. "This will change the accession process for Ukraine from a two-step process to a one-step process," explained Stoltenberg following the agreement.

Additionally, NATO aims to significantly enhance its cooperation with Ukraine. The existing NATO-Ukraine Commission will be upgraded to a NATO-Ukraine Council, allowing for discussions on security matters and joint decision-making on an equal footing. The commission was primarily established to discuss reforms necessary for membership in the Western military alliance.

The NATO summit's decision on Ukraine's membership aspirations reflects a compromise among member states. While Ukraine receives hope for future NATO membership, formal invitation conditions and concerns about Russia's reaction have frustrated President Selenskyj. NATO's commitment to increased cooperation and the establishment of a higher-level council demonstrate efforts to strengthen ties with Ukraine. However, it remains to be seen how Ukraine will navigate the path towards NATO membership and address the ongoing challenges posed by the conflict with Russia.

NATO Promises Continued Support for Ukraine's Membership Aspirations

Introduction: During the NATO summit, member states agreed to offer ongoing support to Ukraine while conditioning a formal invitation to the alliance. President Selenskyj expressed disappointment at the compromise, as the NATO-Ukraine Council was established to address Ukraine's membership aspirations.


The newly formed NATO-Ukraine Council will convene for the first time on Wednesday at the summit attended by heads of state and government. President Selenskyj will participate on an equal footing with the leaders of the 31 NATO member states.

In principle, NATO states are committed to providing support to Ukraine for as long as necessary. The statement affirms the alliance's unwavering commitment to increasing political and practical support for Ukraine as it defends its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

To support Ukraine's deterrence and defense efforts in the short, medium, and long term, the current assistance program will be developed into a multi-year program. This support aims to aid in the reconstruction of Ukraine's security and defense sector and establish the technical and operational prerequisites for military cooperation.

Secretary-General Stoltenberg hailed the agreement as a robust package that will bring Ukraine closer to NATO and provide a clear path to membership.

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