Ukraine Will Join NATO, Says Antony Blinken

NATO is going to “build a bridge” towards Ukraine becoming a member state of the defensive alliance, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on the organisation’s 75th birthday.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states met in Brussels at the alliance’s headquarters on Thursday to toast the 75th anniversary of its founding, among them U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who like others used the occasion to discuss renewed Russian aggression and the potential place of Ukraine among its members. He emphasised the view, already articulated multiple times by NATO leaders in recent years, that “Ukraine will become a member of NATO”.

What he left unsaid, however, was the conditions that generally come with the statement, that this membership would be when Ukraine is in a fit state to join, including not being occupied by a foreign power.

Blinken said:

…the support for Ukraine, the determination of every country represented here at NATO remains rock solid. We will do everything we can, allies will do everything they can, to ensure Ukraine has what it needs to continue to deal with Russia’s ongoing aggression… Ukraine will become a member of NATO. Our purpose at the summit is to help build a bridge to that membership, and to create a clear pathway for Ukraine moving forward… we will see very strong support for Ukraine moving forward with its relationship going forwards with NATO.
But we are equally focussed as I said on the immediate, and on Ukraine’s needs today, tomorrow, the day after to help it withstand this ongoing aggression from Russia.

This follows several comments by U.S. President Biden and NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg last year that “Allies agree that Ukraine will become a member of NATO”. The truth was more complex than that, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz outlined that in granular detail, saying Ukraine doesn’t meet the criteria to be a member state.

He said in 2023 that: “It is also clear that we then have to discuss which security guarantees can be given in a post-war situation. But we are far from there yet. Now we are concentrating on what is coming up… NATO’s criteria include a whole series of conditions that Ukraine cannot currently meet.

Nevertheless, it appears work towards inducting Ukraine into NATO as soon as can be arranged continued behind closed doors. Responding to Blinken’s comments today, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba revealed the alliance is working on the next steps towards membership. He thanked Blinken for “strong, encouraging messages” and said in Brussels:

…it is up to allies themselves to decide on the form and the content towards the next step of Ukraine’s membership in NATO. I understand a decision has been taken today to task the military part of the alliance of designing what that next step may be. We will be looking forward to the outcome. Of course we beleive Ukraine deserves to be a member of NATO and that this should happen sooner rather than later.

While Ukraine may be a way off formally joining NATO, individual members are storming ahead with creating ‘NATO-lite’ arrangements with Ukraine, by signing 10-year treaties with Kyiv promising further funding, support, and promising military aid if Russia invades the state again for the duration of the agreement. The eighth such NATO-lite paper was signed just yesterday with Finland, following the United Kingdom in January, then Germany, France, Denmark, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands.

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