Report: Biden Under Pressure to Give Ukraine Clear Path to NATO Membership

Many NATO countries want to make a stronger commitment to Ukraine

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that President Biden is under pressure from many of the US’s European allies to support giving Ukraine a clear path toward NATO membership.

NATO first pledged that Ukraine would eventually become a member in 2008, and the alliance significantly stepped up cooperation with the country following the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv that ousted former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. But Ukraine hasn’t been given a timeline on when it could actually join NATO.

While most NATO countries agree Ukraine cannot be granted membership while its fighting a war with Russia, some want to give Ukraine a promise it can join NATO after the war is over. Virtually all members agree that NATO must give Ukraine some sort of new pledge at the upcoming summit in Vilnius this July. What exactly that pledge will be has been the subject of intense debate.

The Times reports that for President Biden, “all the options carry considerable risks, pitting his desire not to allow any fractures to appear in NATO against his standing instruction to his staff to ‘avoid World War III.'”

The report said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other US officials have taken the position that the Biden administration will be forced to be more specific about Ukraine’s path to NATO membership even if a date can’t be agreed upon as there’s no end in sight to the war.

President Biden discussed the issue with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington on Tuesday. According to a US official speaking to the Times, Stoltenberg offered a compromise to Biden in which NATO would agree that Ukraine wouldn’t need to go through the standard process for aspiring members before it can join. But it’s unclear what the new process would be for Kyiv.

Ukraine is expected to receive more commitments for military aid at the Vilnius summit. One idea that’s popular among NATO allies is an Israel-style model, which would involve committing military aid for years to come without mutual defense security guarantees.

Any new NATO guarantees for Ukraine will serve to prolong the war as one of Russia’s main motives for invading was Ukraine’s alignment with NATO. In 2008, before Ukraine was first promised it would one day join NATO, then-US Ambassador to Russia William Burns, who is now President Biden’s CIA director, warned in a cable released by WikiLeaks that Ukrainian entry into NATO is the “brightest of all red lines” for Moscow.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.