Ukrainian President Expresses Displeasure Over NATO Decision: Aid Approved But Membership Conditions Remain Unchanged

Ukrainian President Expresses Displeasure Over NATO Decision: Aid Approved But Membership Conditions Remain Unchanged

On Tuesday, July 11, 2023, NATO agreed on a three-part aid package for Ukraine. The decision was announced at a summit in Vilnius by Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Alliance. Despite this significant move, the conditions required for Ukraine's accession to the Alliance remain the same, sparking anger from Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The approved package includes a multi-year program aimed at assisting Ukraine in transitioning its defense and security sector from Soviet equipment to NATO standards. It also sets the foundation for the establishment of a Ukraine-NATO Council, intended to provide a platform for consultations. Furthermore, the Membership Action Plan has been abolished, which simplifies Ukraine's accession process to the Alliance into a single-step process. Ukraine will receive an invitation once it fulfills specific conditions.

"This is a strong package for Ukraine and a clear path to its membership in NATO," Stoltenberg assured during his speech.

Despite these assurances, the Financial Times reports that these proposals were made without Ukrainian participation, which led to President Zelensky expressing his displeasure. He accused NATO of creating uncertainty surrounding Ukraine's status and criticized the lack of clarity regarding Ukraine's potential invitation and membership timeline.

"It is unprecedented and absurd when there is no timeframe for both invitation and membership of Ukraine; and when some strange wording about 'conditions' is added even for Ukraine's invitation," Zelensky stated. He indicated that this lack of decisiveness gives the impression of NATO's reluctance to either invite Ukraine or make it a full member of the Alliance. "This means that there remains an opportunity to bargain Ukraine's membership in NATO - in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror. Uncertainty is weakness, and I will discuss this frankly at the summit," he concluded.

In addition to the aid package, NATO member states pledged to bring their minimum military spending to 2 percent of GDP. They also approved a plan to deploy 300,000 troops on the eastern flank, including significant air and naval combat forces.

The Ukraine-NATO Council is set to replace the previous Ukraine-NATO Commission, in place since 1997. It will act as a forum for crisis consultations and decision-making on an equal footing, as explained by Stoltenberg. The inaugural meeting of the Council will take place in Vilnius on Wednesday, July 12, and will see President Volodymyr Zelensky in attendance.