Ukraine's hopes for a more concrete prospect of joining NATO are in danger of being dashed for the time being. According to information from the German Press Agency, alliance members such as the USA and Germany have recently made it clear behind closed doors that they do not want to make any commitments for the time being that go substantially beyond a vague NATO declaration from 2008.
In it, the then heads of state and government agreed that Ukraine and Georgia should join NATO. However, there was no concrete timetable or timetable for this.
Zelenskyj emphasizes Euro-Atlantic security
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently called on NATO to clear the way for his country to join the Western military alliance at its next summit in July. Neither in Ukraine, nor in Europe, nor in NATO would the majority of the population understand if Kiev did not receive a "well-deserved invitation" to the summit meeting in Lithuania, Zelensky said after a visit by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Kiev. As justification, he explained that hardly anyone is currently contributing more to Euro-Atlantic security than the Ukrainian soldiers. His country has therefore done everything to ensure that the application from Kiev is granted.
Selenskyj is getting support for his demands from Central and Eastern European countries such as the summit host, Lithuania. However, it is currently extremely unlikely that they will be able to persuade NATO partners such as the USA to change course. According to diplomats, opponents of a concrete prospect of accession explain their position by saying that this goal is currently not realistic and could distract from the much more important support for Ukraine. In addition, there is a risk that new NATO commitments could provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with arguments for even more aggressive warfare.
Kremlin: accession "serious, significant danger for our country"
During Stoltenberg's visit to Kiev two weeks ago, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov renewed statements that Russia sees possible NATO membership as a threat. Accordingly, accession would be "a serious, significant danger for our country, for its security".
In order to be able to accommodate Ukraine at the NATO summit in Lithuania, according to diplomats, work is currently underway on a support package already announced by Stoltenberg. In addition, there is talk of offering Ukraine the opportunity to hold talks on even closer cooperation in the form of a NATO-Ukraine Council. A senior diplomat recently said that this could strengthen the "sense of partnership" between NATO and Ukraine and make a real difference.
So far, NATO has only met with representatives of Ukraine in the form of so-called commission meetings. They used to be primarily about reform requirements.
According to information from NATO circles, there will probably only be real movement in the talks about Ukraine's accession prospects if Ukraine succeeds in the war against Russia. Then the NATO states would not have to fear becoming a direct party to the war by admitting Ukraine.
Stoltenberg looks back on the time after the war
Secretary General Stoltenberg recently indirectly ruled out Ukraine's accession in times of war. He pointed out that NATO membership requires Ukraine to survive the war as an independent nation. "If Ukraine does not assert itself as a sovereign independent nation in Europe, then there is no point in discussing membership," he said on the sidelines of a meeting of the international contact group for the coordination of military aid to Ukraine.
At the request of the German Press Agency, the government of US President Joe Biden did not comment on the internal talks before the summit in Lithuania. However, she indirectly confirmed that she considers further arms deliveries and other aid for Ukraine to be more important in the current situation than plans for joining NATO.
"We are concentrating on getting more practical support into the hands of the Ukrainians as soon as possible," a senior government official told dpa. It is also examining what can be done in the longer term to strengthen Ukraine's ability to counter and deter aggression.
On the subject of accession prospects, she only made it clear that the USA does not question the NATO declaration of 2008. "It's not a question of whether Ukraine will join the alliance, but when," she said.
The federal government recently made a similar public statement. A government spokeswoman explained almost two weeks ago that the focus is now on further military, financial and humanitarian support for the country. "At the moment there is no decision on Ukraine's accession."
NATO on relations with Ukraine Bucharest Summit Declaration