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Stoltenberg invites Zelenskyy to NATO summit amid membership uncertainties

Ukraine’s place is in NATO & it will become member one day, but no invitation expected at July summit in Washington as consensus of all 32 allies needed.
press conference stoltenberg zelenskyy april 2024
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on 29 April 2024. Credit: Presidential Office
Stoltenberg invites Zelenskyy to NATO summit amid membership uncertainties

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has invited President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Alliance’s summit in Washington, which will happen in July. However, he doubts that Ukraine will receive an invitation to join the organization.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on 29 April, which marked the third Stoltenberg’s visit to Kyiv since the full-scale invasion. The spokesperson for NATO, Fara Dahlalla, announced on X earlier today the joint press conference of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary.

“Ukraine and the Alliance have reached the highest level of relations since our independence. But not the highest possible. This is exactly what we have been talking about today and will continue to discuss after the press conference,” Zelenskyy said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg revealed during the press conference he discussed preparations for the upcoming NATO summit in Washington with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Stoltenberg emphasized that Ukraine’s place is in NATO, and it will become a member one day.

However, he said Ukraine should not expect an invitation to join the Alliance in Washington. “To have that decision, we need all Alliec to agree. We need the consensus [of all Allies]. We need not just a majority but all 32 allies to agree,” Stoltenberg said.

“I don’t expect we will have that agreement by the summit in July. But I think we can demonstrate that we are moving Ukraine closer to membership and that the day will arrive as soon as possible for us to have Ukraine as a full member,” he added.

Stoltenberg emphasized that in the meantime, NATO should ensure that Ukraine becomes as interoperable as possible and that Ukraine is fully up to NATO standards. “When these conditions are in place, then Ukraine can become a member straightway,” he said.

The US and Germany, key NATO allies, reportedly are not ready to extend an invitation format that would give certainty regarding Ukraine’s future NATO membership. NATO reportedly sees “specific steps” by the Ukrainian authorities in implementing the adapted Annual National Program (aNP) – a reform plan for 2024 aimed at bringing Kyiv closer to NATO membership.

The adapted Annual National Program became a tool for NATO to assess Ukraine’s progress towards membership following the Vilnius summit in July 2023, when the Alliance decided to abolish one of the intermediary steps – the Membership Action Plan.

“We made important decisions in Vilnius where we removed what we call the requirement for the membership action plan, turning the path to membership from a two-step process to a one-step process,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg also said that when it comes to military support, NATO is considering that it “delivers the capabilities and helps to build the Ukrainian future force that Ukraine will become a member of this Alliance.”

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