Ukraine’s hopes of joining NATO were dashed on Tuesday as the alliance leaders said they would only invite the country to join “when allies agree and conditions are met” — a vague statement that left Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy frustrated and angry.
Zelenskyy, who is facing a brutal war with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, had hoped for a clear timeline and a membership action plan from NATO, which would have boosted his country’s security and reforms. He called the delay “absurd” and “unprecedented” on Twitter, saying it showed a lack of readiness to welcome Ukraine into the alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance reaffirmed its 2008 promise that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, but added that the country still had to make more progress. He said NATO agreed to remove the requirement for a membership action plan, which would simplify Ukraine’s path to membership.
However, some NATO members, such as France and Germany, have been reluctant to admit Ukraine into the alliance, fearing it would provoke Russia and escalate the conflict. Russia considers Ukraine part of its sphere of influence and annexed its Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and supported the separatists in the Donbas region.