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Zelenskyy: invitation to NATO doesn’t mean membership

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Jens Stoltenberg during the press-conference at NATO Summit in Vilnius. 12 July 2023. Screenshot.
Zelenskyy: invitation to NATO doesn’t mean membership
Ukraine understands that it cannot become a member of the Alliance while it is at war; however, an invitation does not mean membership, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at the NATO summit that could not decide on extending such an invitation.

Speaking ahead of the first Ukraine-NATO council in Vilnius, a new format of bilateral relations, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that “Ukraine will become a member of the alliance.” Until then, allies are expected to provide security guarantees through real material assistance and establish a new Ukraine-NATO council. The disagreement remained over the timeline for the invitation. Zelenskyy stressed that invitation doesn’t mean membership and, therefore, could be made now despite the war to highlight the Ukrainian future in the alliance.

Stoltenberg stressed that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance. The decision of the allies to remove the requirement for a membership action plan for Ukraine aims to make this process one step.

Allies reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance and agreed to remove the requirement for a membership action plan. This will change Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step process to a one-step process. And we will issue an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO when allies agree that conditions are met.”

Stoltenberg also said that “many allies today will commit to providing long-term security assistance to Ukraine,” referring to the expected G7 agreement on security guarantees for Ukraine. Other countries outside G7 will be able to join the agreement, and Zelenskyy said that there are already “Ukrainian friends outside G7” who will join the guarantees.

Unlike Budapest Memorandum, current guarantees should include specific aid provided to Ukraine in case of aggression, meaning that the current assistance will be long-term and sustainable.

Security guarantees are on the way of Ukrainian integration to NATO, but not instead of NATO – I highlight it once again,” Zelenskyy said, stressing that Ukraine doesn’t consider any alternative to NATO.

Zelenskyy also said that there is “very positive news regarding new packages of aid from our partners” announced and discussed during the NATO summit.

Speaking on the invitation to NATO that wasn’t extended for Ukraine during the current summit, contrary to Ukrainian expectations, Zelenskyy noted that “the results of the summit are good, but if there was an invitation, they could be ideal.”

I compare it with the EU candidacy, – he explained.The EU candidacy was also a signal, there is no EU membership in the candidacy, but candidacy gives confidence as well as a powerful mobilization for Ukraine and a powerful signal for Russia.

Speaking generally about the summit, Zelenskyy stressed that he is very grateful to Ukraine’s partners for their assistance, although sometimes it is very difficult to explain “some things” due to the different conditions where Ukraine and the West live.

Sometimes it is very difficult to explain some things to our partners, because we are at war, our partners really help us, but we still live in different conditions. Because we are in conditions where we have to survive, and our partners want to help us live… We are adequate people,we understand that Ukraine cannot be a member of NATO while the war is going on. It is absolutely clear. But I heared important signals today in our bilateral meetings that Ukraine will be a member of NATO. This confidence, from all my meetings, sounded so sure for the first time. [They said] that we will be members of NATO ‘when certain conditions are met.’I understand by this that when it will be safe on our land.”

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