Is Ukraine inching closer to NATO?
The central question at this week’s NATO Summit in Vilnius: How can the alliance provide Ukraine with maximum military and financial support while keeping its strategic options open by dodging a firm commitment to when and how Ukraine will join?
It’s been 15 years since NATO leaders first pledged that Ukraine will become a member. The official summit communiqué, released on Tuesday, reaffirmed that promise. But now that Ukraine is fighting for its survival against Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky has pushed hard for all the support he can get, including a fast-tracked membership process that leads to a security guarantee.
NATO and Ukraine have both made clear Ukraine can’t join while the country is still at war. But on Tuesday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg used a news conference to outline new pledges of support.
He said NATO will…
- Provide multi-year help for Ukraine's transition to NATO training standards.
- Form a NATO-Ukraine council that will hold its first meeting on Wednesday.
- Shift Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step process to a one-step process.
These three pledges raise three new questions.
- Ukraine has trained with NATO for years, mainly on peacekeeping, and surely the war with Russia will help align Ukraine much more closely with NATO’s way of doing things. So what’s new here?
- How will a NATO-Ukraine Council change the war or speed Ukraine’s admission to the alliance?
- Will the new one-step process take six months or 30 years?
Let’s add two more questions …
- Will Zelensky be satisfied with these steps?
- If not, what will he do about it?