A tweet by the president of Ukraine made international headlines Monday, but it appears to have been premature.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted Monday afternoon that his country had been granted entry into NATO, a move it had long sought and what many view as a rebuke of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Here is the tweet:
However, Zelenskiy either jumped the gun or received mixed messages about what NATO members actually discussed, because the alliance did not vote Ukraine in — at least not yet.
During a press conference after the NATO summit, PBS Newshour’s Yamiche Alcindor reported that President Joe Biden was asked about Ukraine and NATO, and made it clear that he didn’t think it had been formally approved.
Essentially, the president says Ukraine joining NATO will depend on the actions Ukraine take. Watch and listen to Biden’s comments on it here:
There is also this bit of clarification from Newhour’s Nich Schifrin. He shared the official NATO release. Reading it, it indicates members just reaffirmed a decision from 2008 that Ukraine will eventually join NATO, as long as it follows the Membership Action Plan (MAP), the process by which 11 eastern European countries have joined NATO.
Jonathan Lemire, the reporter covering the White House for the Associated Press, tweeted this update shortly after the Ukraine leader’s message hit social media.
Joining NATO has long been a goal for Ukraine.
President Zelenskiy had said in an interview with Reuters published Monday that he wanted President Biden to provide a clear answer on if the U.S. supports Ukraine’s membership.
During that interview, Zelenskiy said he received assurances that Biden would not use Ukraine as a bargaining chip when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
Zelenskiy has been campaigning to get Ukraine’s entry into the alliance fast-tracked, due to the years-long conflict in Eastern Ukraine that has killed some 14,000 people since 2014. A standoff earlier this year saw Russia send thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border, and nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers remain there.
Ukraine sees joining NATO as a vital measure of protection against Russia, given NATO’s long-standing tradition of protecting its members.
At the end of the NATO summit Monday, President Biden made it clear that he views Article 5 of the NATO treaty that addresses protecting allies, as a sacred duty of the U.S. — a view that was not shared by former president Trump.
To many observers, Ukraine joining NATO would be a clear message from the alliance to Russia: Back off its aggression campaign.