Biden Admin Urged To Offer Ukraine NATO invitation At July Summit

Biden Admin Urged To Offer Ukraine NATO invitation At July Summit

As NATO's Washington summit draws closer, the battle of arguments over whether Ukraine should finally be invited to join the Alliance is in full swing. President Biden and other key administration officials have made it clear that war-torn Ukraine will 'eventually' join the 32-member bloc. In a speech at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute this week, Secretary Antony Blinken declared that the U.S. was bringing Ukraine closer to — and then into — NATO. "We’ll make sure that Ukraine’s bridge to NATO is strong and well-lit," he said.

Kyiv and some of its allies inside NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe, have long been pushing for a membership invitation even as they accept Ukraine could not join NATO while still at war.  At a summit in Vilnius last year, NATO leaders said Ukraine's future was in the alliance but stopped short of issuing an invitation or setting out a timeline for membership.

Peter Rough, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Europe and Eurasia at Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank, says that it would be wise to offer Ukraine membership at the upcoming Washington summit with the final date of accession to be determined when all of the allied members believe security conditions allow it.

"President Zelenskyy himself has said on multiple occasions that Ukraine will not enter the Alliance while the war is raging in his country.  He recognizes this. At the same time, [the invitation] makes clear that the West will not give up on Ukraine, that Ukraine’s future is in NATO," Rough told TURAN's Washington correspondent during a Friday briefing organized by the State Department's Washington Foreign Press Center.

According to him, even a statement that says Ukraine’s future is in NATO – and there is no doubt that there’ll be language like that adopted in Washington – is "not the same thing as actually offering membership to accession talks to whatever date is eventually decided."

He went on to elaborate, "I think there is a meaningful distinction there between saying, like we have since 2008 at the Bucharest Summit, that we’d like to invite Ukraine into NATO, almost a rote regurgitation of language which we’ve adopted each summit and has almost lost some of its meaning, versus taking that next step to membership at whatever date eventually is decided on. So I think that is meaningful."

At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, NATO members agreed that Ukraine would eventually join the Alliance, something backed by the U.S. But almost 16 years later, Ukraine still remains on the sidelines.

TURAN also asked Rough about Georgia's recent apparent backsliding from the European path and its implications for NATO accession talks.

According to him, the situation in Georgia, much like the situation in the Caucasus writ large and in the post-Soviet states of the Black Sea "is entirely dependent on Russian power." 

"When Russia is beat back in Ukraine, it’s the number-one thing that can be done to weaken to Russia’s influence in Central Asia, weaken its influence in the Caucasus – so on both sides of the Caspian – weaken its influences in Ukraine, quite obviously and literally, but also in a place like Moldova.  And so the number one thing that the West can do is to back the Ukrainians and empower them to achieve gains on the battlefield," he concluded.

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