NATO countries agree Ukraine is on an “irreversible path” to membership

NATO leaders said in a statement issued Wednesday at the summit in Washington that Ukraine is on an “irreversible path” NATO membership.

The top statementsigned by all 32 NATO countries, contains one of the strongest statements yet about the organization's intention to eventually admit Ukraine as a member.

Ukraine and its protection are a central part of this year's NATO summit in Washington, DC, hosted by President Biden. The statement, which encompasses NATO's beliefs and goals, says Ukraine has become “increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the alliance.”

World leaders attend NATO summit in Washington, DC
British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg at the 2024 NATO summit on July 10, 2024 in Washington, DC

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images


“We welcome the concrete progress Ukraine has made since the Vilnius Summit on the required democratic, economic and security reforms,” ​​the statement said. “As Ukraine continues this essential work, we will continue to support it on its irreversible path towards full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership. We reaffirm that we will be able to invite Ukraine to join the Alliance when the Allies agree and the conditions are met.”

However, the alliance's statement did not offer a specific timeline for membership for Ukraine, which has been trying to formalize its ties with Europe and the United States. When NATO leaders convened a year agothey confirmed that Ukraine would eventually join the organization. Last year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Ukraine had made “good progress” toward membership but needed to do more, including military and democratic reforms. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized last year’s statement.

Mr. Biden, who is undergoing a fitness test to become the Democratic candidate, Ukraine made a major topic in his opening speech at the summit.

US Senate Ukraine
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer escorts Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to a medal ceremony on Capitol Hill on July 10, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

John McDonnell / AP


“We know Putin will not stop at Ukraine. But make no mistake — Ukraine can and will stop Putin,” the president said of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Especially with our full, collective support. They have our full support.”

Biden stressed that NATO is as important now as ever, citing terrorist threats and Russia's two-year war with Ukraine. The president announced a donation of air defense equipment for Ukraine from the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Italy. In the coming months, the U.S. and its partners will provide Ukraine with dozens of additional tactical air defense systems, he said.

Zelenskyy has made the most of his time in Washington, meeting with leaders on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Zelenskyy met with House Speaker Mike Johnson, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as he continues to call for more funding and supplies to defend his country from the Russian invasion.

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