NATO says Ukraine can join alliance when “conditions are met” and “allies agree”

July 13, 2023

The results of the summit are good, but if there were an invitation, that would be ideal.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky following the NATO Summit in Lithuania this week. A major topic of the meeting was Ukraine’s membership and whether the country could join the alliance.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): The largest military alliance in the world; when one of the member countries is in need of military aid, the others share the responsibility.

Why It Matters: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attended the summit in hopes of receiving a timeline for NATO membership. While he did not gain a timeline, some of the largest NATO countries (such as the U.S.) pledged ongoing long-term assistance amid the war and NATO leaders said, “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met.” NPR explains, “Some NATO members, including the United States, feel that Ukraine cannot join the alliance until Russia ends its war there. Otherwise, NATO would be drawn directly into the war.”

What leaders are saying following the summit:

  • President Biden: “The one thing Zelenskyy understands now is that whether or not he’s in NATO now is not relevant, as long as he has the commitments.”
  • France’s President Emmanuel Macron: It was “legitimate for the Ukrainian president to be demanding with us, because he is fighting on the ground.” However, he said, “We did what we needed to do, and we did it by keeping the allies united.”
  • Former senior NATO official who is now with the European Council on Foreign Relations, Camille Grand: “There needs to be a more substantive conversation of what is the right moment to bring Ukraine in. Some allies say it means total peace, some say it means a lasting cease-fire, some say it means a stable line of control. But going there publicly is difficult, because you give Putin lines in the sand he can manipulate.”

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