The Washington Post reported Thursday that US officials at the NATO summit in Vilnius were so angry over Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s criticism that they almost scaled back the commitment made to Ukraine in NATO’s communiqué.
As the alliance was working on the wording of its communiqué on Tuesday, Zelensky took to Twitter to air his grievances about Ukraine not getting a formal invitation to join NATO, calling it “unprecedented and absurd.”
The final wording of the communiqué was vague with respect to Ukraine’s future membership, only saying that NATO will “be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.”
Sources told the Post that the US delegation was “furious” over Zelensky’s tweet. NATO officials held informal talks to decide how to respond to the Ukrainian leader’s criticism. According to European officials, the US wanted to get rid of the line about Ukraine’s future invitation altogether.
But ultimately, the US delegation agreed to stick with the original language. The report said French President Emmanuel Macron pushed to keep the line about Ukraine’s invitation in the communiqué and was backed by central European countries and the Baltic states.
The spat highlighted the divisions within NATO and between the US and Ukraine as the alliance was trying to put on a show of unity. The following day, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that Ukraine should show more gratitude for the tens of billion in military aid it has received from its Western backers.