NATO Will Not Grant Ukraine Full Membership, Report Says

Kiev will “have to accept whatever is offered” by the bloc short of full-fledged membership, the agency reports

NATO will make it clear to Ukraine’s President Zelensky that his country will not be joining the military alliance anytime soon, and Ukraine will need to accept whatever support the West offers, according to AFP news agency, citing sources on Monday.

Leaders of the military alliance will reiterate their commitment to supporting Ukraine at a summit in Washington later this week, the agency said, but “they will not give Zelensky what he wants most: a firm invitation for his war-torn country to join their nuclear-armed alliance anytime soon.”

Unnamed Western officials told AFP that they are hoping to avoid a public disagreement with Ukraine at the event, similar to the one that occurred last year when Zelensky criticized NATO for its “unprecedented and absurd” policy of not setting a timeframe for Ukraine’s accession.

According to several diplomats, “NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg set out what was on offer at a meeting with the Ukrainian leader ahead of time.”

“The scene is better prepared now,” an unnamed NATO diplomat told the agency. “Zelensky will have to accept whatever is offered.”

The agency also noted, citing Ukrainian officials, that Kiev had come to terms with the fact that it would not receive an invitation to join NATO at the summit, adding that Ukraine intends to promote the “sense of guilt” among bloc members to achieve its other goals.

In terms of specific NATO commitments, Zelensky is expected to receive a promise of new air-defense system deliveries, with other measures to assist Ukraine to be put on “a firmer footing.”

According to one diplomat, a promise of new air defenses, in the absence of other substantial commitments, could allow Zelensky to declare the summit a victory for Kiev. “What would you want more? Nice words in a declaration that don’t mean much or military support?” the source added.

NATO member states first agreed that Ukraine would eventually join NATO back in 2008 without providing a specific timeline. After the Western-backed coup in Kiev in 2014, Ukraine designated NATO membership as a strategic foreign policy objective. In the autumn of 2022, it submitted an official application to the bloc after four of its former regions voted overwhelmingly to join Russia.

Meanwhile, Moscow has traditionally viewed NATO expansion towards its borders as a threat, with President Vladimir Putin saying Ukraine’s plans to join the bloc were one of the key reasons for the conflict.