President Biden said Saturday that he won’t make it easy for Ukraine to join NATO as the alliance is debating what new commitments to extend to Kyiv at an upcoming summit in Vilnius that will be held from July 11-12.
Most NATO members agree that Ukraine can’t be offered full NATO membership while it’s fighting a war with Russia. Some NATO countries want to promise Kyiv that it will become a member after the war, but the US is said to be resisting the idea.
POLITICO reported last week that President Biden was “open” to waiving the Member Action Plan (MAP) for Ukraine, which requires military and democratic reforms before a judgment on membership could be made. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reportedly proposed the idea to Biden at a meeting at the White House as a potential compromise.
But Biden signaled on Saturday that he was not in favor of the idea. “They got to meet the same standards. So I’m not going to make it easier,” the president told reporters.
“I think they’ve done everything relating to demonstrating the ability to coordinate militarily, but there’s a whole issue of: Is their system secure? Is it non-corrupt? Does it meet all the standards every other nation in NATO does?” he said. “I think they will. I think they can. But it’s not automatic.”
An idea that’s gaining favor with the more cautious NATO members is an Israel-style model for Ukraine. That would involve committing billions in military aid for years to come but would not include mutual defense guarantees that come with a NATO membership.
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 the alliance. In 2008, before Ukraine was first promised it would one day join NATO, then-US Ambassador to Russia William Burns, who is now the CIA director, warned in a cable released by WikiLeaks that Ukrainian entry into NATO was a major red line for Russia.