Statements made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the day on Tuesday regarding his country’s accession to NATO angered US officials in the Lithuanian capital. The Washington PostIt cites official sources.
Selansky condemned the lack of a firm timetable for the merger, calling it an “unprecedented and absurd” decision. The Washington Post writes that the messages sent by the Ukrainian president caused anger among supporters of Ukraine in the alliance.
Ukraine has asked for a concrete timetable for joining NATO, including specific steps and milestones. But many NATO countries are wary of the risk of outright war with Russia and have sought a way to balance Ukraine’s hopes with practical security calculations.
Zelensky’s angry intervention – who arrived in Vilnius ahead of Tuesday’s final deal, but after writing a scathing message on Twitter – stunned some officials who had expected a moderate reaction from the Ukrainian president.
“Now, on the way to Vilnius, we received signals that some formulas are being discussed without Ukraine. I want to emphasize that this term refers to the call for membership in NATO, not for the accession of Ukraine. This is unprecedented and absurd when no calendar has been established for (Ukraine joining NATO) or for the accession of Ukraine. (…) Ukraine will be represented at the NATO summit in Vilnius because it is about respect. But Ukraine is also respectable,” the leader wrote from Kyiv.
The harsh statement is the latest gamble by the Ukrainian president, who has not hesitated to criticize his supporters when he senses a moment to drum up more support for Ukraine. NATO diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suspect Zelensky used the tweet as a negotiating tactic.
Zelensky was particularly outraged that the conditions were not even met for an invitation to join, let alone full membership. He argued that NATO leaders were not serious about Ukraine’s accession, and complained that their approach showed they wanted to keep members as bargaining chips for possible negotiations with Russia.
“Uncertainty is weakness,” he wrote, as he prepared to join the Allies for meetings in Vilnius. “I will discuss it openly at the summit.”
Members of the US House of Representatives were outraged by Zelensky’s tweet
Zelensky’s news surprised policymakers at the summit, where Biden hoped to stage a show of solidarity against Russia and highlight his ability to rally global partners around a common goal.
Although Zelensky did not mention Biden in his tweet, the Ukrainian leader called the US president a “decision-maker” of NATO and sent invitations to join the White House.
Members of the U.S. delegation were outraged by Zelensky’s tweet, according to an official familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tried to sort things out.
At the end of the summit’s first day, Stoltenberg said, “There has never been a stronger message from NATO, in terms of political messages, on the way forward for the firm support of members and NATO allies.
But after arriving in Vilnius, Zelensky struck a more conciliatory tone, telling a crowd of thousands of people there that he continued to have “confidence” in a strong NATO that could grow stronger with Ukraine.
“I want that hope to become hope — the results we deserve, we all deserve, and hope every warrior, every citizen, every mother, every child waits for,” he later tweeted.
But Zelensky’s previous messages blasting the coalition were in stark contrast to the image of Western reconciliation that Biden and his aides have projected.
For weeks, NATO diplomats have been trying to find a way to signal support for Ukraine without granting it NATO membership.
In the final statement, the allies said “Ukraine’s future lies in NATO,” though they declined to say when that future would be.
Ukrainians insisted on including the word “invitation” in the summit’s statement, diplomats were quoted as saying.
But some diplomats have argued that offering NATO membership while Ukraine is at war is unrealistic because it would immediately involve the alliance in military hostilities. Others argued that waiting until the end of the war would give Russian President Vladimir Putin an excuse.
While Zelenski stepped up calls for membership, Biden said the country needed to improve its democratic system before qualifying.
America was joined by Germany, which supported President Biden’s position.
The US and Ukrainian presidents are due to meet in Vilnius on Wednesday.
Author: Robert Kiss
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