VILNIUS — It’s a problem solved and one to be solved for the NATO alliance as leaders prepare to meet for a summit in the Lithuanian capital.
Sweden’s troubled membership application was accepted by Turkey’s president on Monday, but the sensitive issue of formulating acceptable language about Ukraine’s membership aspirations has not yet been agreed.
After intense talks on the summit communiqué, there was still no final agreement on what Ukraine will be offered, although a senior NATO diplomat said: « We have made excellent progress and I am 100% optimistic.
Officials negotiating language on Ukraine are now expected to reconvene on Tuesday, the same day leaders begin their two-day meeting.
« I think he’s joining – he’s very close, » said a second senior NATO diplomat, who like others was granted anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ramped up pressure on the alliance on Monday, demanding that NATO send a clear signal that his country will unite once the war with Russia is over.
“Even if different positions are expressed, it is still clear that Ukraine deserves to be in the Alliance. Not now: there is a war, but we need a clear signal. And we need this signal right now, » Zelensky She said.
Kyiv’s bid to join NATO after the end of hostilities has broad support among alliance members, but has met resistance from Germany and the United States. While all allies formally agree that Ukraine will one day become a member, Berlin and Washington are hesitant to offer Ukraine a concrete path to membership, preferring to focus on Kiev’s immediate needs to fight off the Russian invasion.
« I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO on whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the midst of a war, » said US President Joe Biden. he told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday. He added that if Ukraine were a NATO member, « we are at war with Russia, if that were the case. »
A senior German official said on Monday: “The time is not right at this summit for an invitation to Ukraine, for concrete steps towards membership. There is no consensus among the allies on this either. »
Biden, who arrived in Vilnius on Monday, plans to meet Zelenskyy on Wednesday.
Alliance leaders will be able to devote their full attention to Ukraine on Tuesday after another major problem – Sweden’s stalled bid for NATO membership – was resolved after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised to submit the matter to the Turkish Parliament.
Hans von der Burchard contributed to the reporting.