VILNIUS, Lithuania — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, angered by NATO conditions for his country to join the alliance, is due to meet President Joe Biden on Wednesday as the Ukrainian leader seeks to fast-track a NATO invitation.
Zelensky, in a tweet on Tuesday, described as “unprecedented and absurd” that the military alliance does not have a concrete deadline to send an invitation to Ukraine. The Ukrainian leader criticized the “conditions” imposed on Ukraine’s NATO review.
“This means that there is still a possibility of negotiating Ukraine’s accession to NATO – in negotiations with Russia,” Zelenskyy said. “And for Russia, that means motivation to continue its terror. Uncertainty is a weakness. And I will discuss that openly at the summit.”
Zelenskyy, who had threatened to skip the NATO summit, arrived in Lithuania for the meeting on Tuesday, addressing a public crowd of supporters in his war-torn country alongside Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.
He spent Wednesday morning meeting with key allies in Vilnius, including the German, Canadian and British leaders, and will speak at a press conference alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the start. afternoon. Zelenskky will join Biden and other leaders soon after at the inaugural meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council.
Among Zelenskyy’s goals with his NATO membership is to eliminate membership as a bargaining chip at the negotiating table in future peace talks with Russia.
“Today I embarked on a journey here with faith in decisions, with faith in partners, with faith in a strong NATO,” Zelenskyy said. “In a NATO that does not hesitate, does not waste time and does not look back on any aggressor.”
Biden expressed reluctance to invite Ukraine to join NATO before the end of the war, calling the discussion “premature” in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria ahead of the NATO summit.
“I think we can get there,” Biden said. “But I think it’s premature to say call for a vote now, because there are other conditions that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues.”
The White House said Wednesday that Ukraine “still needs to make a number of reforms” to become a member.
“We recognize that Ukraine has already made significant progress in terms of reforms,” said Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe at the National Security Council. “Ukraine has yet to undertake further democratic and security sector reforms. The President has been clear that we believe Ukraine can do this for all members who have joined the alliance.”
The United States said on Wednesday that the Group of Seven countries would begin discussions on providing long-term security guarantees for Ukraine. This initiative will seek to ensure that Ukraine has a sustainable fighting force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring future Russian aggression, as well as a stable economy. It will discuss the help Ukraine needs to advance the government reforms that the allies are making as a condition of NATO membership.
Some NATO allies are cautious about the implications of making Ukraine the 32nd member of the alliance amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, acknowledging that its addition could bring them closer to the conflict.
Stoltenberg said Tuesday that NATO leaders would offer an invitation to Ukraine “when the allies agree and the conditions are met.”
The alliance announced a new multi-year assistance program to help Ukraine modernize its security and defense bases and bring them up to NATO standards. The funding will also help Ukraine cover essential needs such as fuel, demining equipment and medical supplies.
The Allies also launched a NATO-Ukraine Council during the summit and agreed to simplify Ukraine’s process of joining NATO by removing the requirement for it to submit a so-called NATO action plan. membership.
“This is a solid package for Ukraine and a clear path to NATO membership,” Stoltenberg said.
The White House said Wednesday that NATO had delivered a “very strong, forward-looking message that goes far beyond what has been said in the past” on Ukraine’s path to membership.
“I agree the release is unprecedented, but I see it positively,” Sloat said.
Responding to criticism of Zelenskyy at a press conference on Tuesday, Stoltenberg also claimed, “There has never been a stronger message from NATO at any time. Both in terms of a political message on the way forward for membership and concrete support from NATO allies; military support, but also practical support on how to ensure full interoperability.
“And if you look at all the other accession processes,” he continued, “there were no time limits for these processes, they’re conditional, they always have been.”
Republican Senator Pete Ricketts, one of several lawmakers attending the Vilnius summit, said the first thing to do was to provide Kiev with the weapons and support it needs to defeat Russia.
“Then there will definitely be a process for them to apply for NATO membership. I think there’s a consensus that this initiation will go to Ukraine at the appropriate time,” the senator said. Nebraska. “But frankly, first of all, that is: you have to win the war.”
Contact Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison. Follow Francesca Chambers @fran_chambers.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Zelenskyy to meet with Biden to ask for urgency to join NATO