The Financial Times reported Thursday that the US is pushing back against an effort by some of its European allies to provide Ukraine with a “road map” toward NATO membership at an alliance summit this July that will be held in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.
While NATO’s position is that Ukraine will eventually become a member, Kiev has never been given a timeline on when it could join. Sources told Financial Times that some NATO countries, including Poland and the Baltic states, want to offer Kiev deeper ties and clear statements on its future membership. Polish President Andrzej Duda has previously said that NATO should offer Ukraine post-war security guarantees.
The Financial Times report said the US, Germany, and Hungary are pushing back against these efforts, and NATO members are expected to be locked in negotiations on the issue until the summit is held. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned he would only attend the summit if Kiev was presented with steps toward membership.
NATO first promised in 2008 that Ukraine would eventually join the alliance despite warnings from William Burns, who was the US ambassador to Russia at the time and now serves as the CIA director. Burns said in a 2008 cable later released by WikiLeaks that Ukrainian entry into NATO is “the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin).”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that Ukraine must win the war against Russia and become more interoperable with the alliance to become a member. He did not offer a timeline on membership but said the work to make Ukraine more interoperable is a “long-term” project.
Sources told Financial Times that all NATO members agree that offering Ukraine full membership is not a “short-term” option since its currently engaged in a war with Russia, but a growing number of alliance members support offering a “political path.” Any sort of new guarantee from NATO would be highly provocative toward Russia as Ukraine’s alignment with NATO was one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main motives for launching the invasion.
This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.