NATO leaders gathered this week to launch a highly symbolic new forum for ties with Ukraine, after committing to provide the country with more military assistance for fighting Russia but only vague assurances of future membership.
Although Zelenskyy is attending the summit’s final day in Vilnius, he has been sharply critical of what he described as NATO’s “absurd” reluctance to set a timeline for his country’s acceptance into the alliance.
Zelenskyy said in a Tuesday speech in a town square in Vilnius that he had faith in NATO, but that he would “like this faith to become confidence, confidence in the decisions that we deserve, all of us, every soldier, every citizen, every mother, every child.”
“Is that too much to ask?” he added.
“It’s unprecedented and absurd when a time frame is set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership,” Zelenskyy tweeted before heading to the summit.
“While at the same time, vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine. It seems there is no readiness to invite Ukraine to NATO or to make it a member of the Alliance.”
NATO leaders said Tuesday that they would allow Ukraine to join the alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met” — a pronouncement that came just hours after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blasted the organisation’s failure to set a timetable for his country as “absurd.”
Instead, alliance leaders decided to remove obstacles on Ukraine’s membership path so that it can join more quickly once the war with Russia is over.
“We reaffirmed Ukraine will become a member of NATO and agreed to remove the requirement for a membership action plan,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters, referring to a key step in the process that involves advice and assistance for countries seeking to join.
“This will change Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step path to a one-step path,” Stoltenberg said.
Today, US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts will sit down with the Ukrainian President in the new NATO-Ukraine Council, a permanent body where the 31 allies and Ukraine will sit as equals and be able to call crisis talks.