Ukraine has been pushing for entry into NATO for some time, but to this point, nothing solid has developed in that regard.
Yet, last week, during a NATO summit that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended, one of the top U.S. security officials said the international alliance would be willing to admit the country into its group – once it meets conditions that have been set out.
Speaking on the “Face the Nation” program on CBS over the weekend, Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said:
“We said at NATO very simply, Ukraine’s future is in NATO. We meant it. That’s not up for negotiation. That’s something that now all 31 allies have committed to.”
Earlier last week, leaders of NATO announced that Ukraine would get an official invite to join their group after Ukraine meets conditions that are outlined and all allies in the group agree.
Initially, that announcement resulted in disappointment from people in Kyiv. Zelenskyy himself even tweeted that he went to the summit in Lithuania hoping that NATO would be a group that “does not hesitate, does not waste time and does not look back at any aggressor … is that too much to expect?”
Just one day later, though, he walked back that criticism, commenting:
“I think by the end of summit, we have great unity from our leaders and the security guarantees – that is a success for this summit, I think so.”
Most NATO leaders seem on the same page about Ukraine being admitted into NATO at some point in the future. However, there are conditions that the country needs to meet first before everyone can get on board.
Sullivan acknowledged this during the CBS program, saying the alliance completely supports Ukraine. One of the conditions that has to be met before they will be admitted into NATO, though, is that the war with Russia has to end.
A major reason for that, obviously, is that if Ukraine were to be admitted to NATO as a full member while the war was going on, the current NATO members would be forced to come to their physical defense.
As Sullivan said:
“Having Ukraine come into NATO while the war is going on would mean that NATO was at war with Russia. It would mean the United States was at war with Russia. And neither NATO nor the United States were prepared to do that.”
That makes a lot of sense. Ukraine shouldn’t be able to just immediately benefit from joining NATO, without giving anything in return. Some people have even surmised that Ukraine wants to join the alliance so badly right now because they know that doing so would mean 31 other countries coming to their defense against Russia.
That could easily propel the war between them and Russia into a full-blown world war, though.
Sullivan said meeting conditions is not something that’s specific to Ukraine. All members have had to make certain democratic progress. As Sullivan explained:
“Ukraine has made a lot of progress on that pathway. It has more reforms to make.”