U.S. approves idea of simplified accession of Ukraine to NATO

President Joe Biden’s administration has agreed that after the end of the war with Russia, Ukraine will be able to join NATO without fulfilling the Membership Action Plan (MAP), the Washington Post reports, citing a senior White House official. Such an initiative had previously been taken by the secretary-general of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg.

According to the source, if other members of the bloc approve the idea, this will put an end to the debate on what NATO will offer Kyiv in response to its demands for accelerated accession to the alliance.

Biden’s position on a simplified procedure for Ukraine was confirmed by two Axios sources familiar with the discussions. Earlier the American president, as well as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, did not want to go beyond the commitments made at the NATO summit in 2008 that Ukraine would join the alliance “some day”. However, thanks to the efforts of several members of the bloc in Eastern Europe, Biden agreed to demonstrate that there would be no standard barriers to accession for Kyiv.

According to the newspaper’s interlocutors, Stoltenberg also pointed out to the U.S. president that Ukraine had made progress on this issue and did not need to comply with the MAP, through which all Eastern European member states: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia had passed in due time.

The MAP program has been in place since 1999. Bosnia and Herzegovina currently participates in it. The Membership Action Plan, which Ukraine has not yet received, involves specific criteria and reforms, and its implementation could take years or even decades.

On 3 June, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Kyiv should join NATO without the MAP because this mechanism had “outlived its usefulness”. He also noted that it was impossible to defend the Euro-Atlantic space without the Ukrainian state. The last country to join NATO, Finland, also did not have its MAP.

Ukraine seeks clear language on the prospect of membership in the North Atlantic Alliance at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July. The same summit could decide on long-term security guarantees for Kyiv. It will be linked to preparations for future NATO membership, but in the meantime the alliance, while staying out of the conflict with Russia, will continue to provide military support to Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Western officials and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stressed that only NATO membership guarantees the country’s security, while acknowledging that accession will only be possible after the war with Russia is over.

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